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Military court convincts marine of killing Emerson student in Allston fight

The Berkeley Beacon reports a Marine was court martialed and was sentenced to seven years in military prison for a 2019 fight that left an Emerson College student dead from brain injuries suffered when his head hit bricks

The Beacon reports Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel Boris was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Emerson sophomore Daniel Hollis in the fight on Park Vale Road.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office had sought to bring charges against Boris, but a grand jury declined to indict him.

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Comments

Sad story all around.

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Yeah

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Marine reservist sentenced for unlawful killing of Emerson College student
https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2021/06/21/marin...

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but I'm curious what it was about the legal case the DA's office brought that led the grand jury to not indict here, given the punishment given out by the military court?

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I wonder if they got together and decided to hand it off to the military?

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You honestly think government agencies work this closely together?

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I am not educated to enough to answer the question on this specific case, but I think in a broad sense it can be explained by the differences in our civil criminal justice system and the UCMJ. There are additional laws and codes of conduct for active service e members as well as different evidentiary thresholds for convening courts martial than ones faced by local DA’s offices (to say nothing about jury differences.)

The justice system that governs the military is separate and distinct from the civilian criminal justice system…

In the civilian world, when a crime is committed, a prosecutor will review the evidence and decide if charges should be brought against that individual. In the military context, the commander of the accused is the person with prosecutorial discretion.This means that the commander decides whether to resolve charges against a service member administratively by informal counseling or limitations of privileges, for example, or to refer the charges to trial by court martial.The power to convene a court martial given to a commander, makes the commander the “convening authority,” but the President, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretaries of the various branches of the military also may also convene a general court martial under the statute…

The convening authority is also the one responsible for selecting the people who will serve on a court martial. While prosecutors in the civilian legal system play an important role in selecting jurors for a trial, they do not have total control of who serves on a jury. While juries are never perfect, they are intended to be composed of peers of the accused. In a court martial, enlisted members of the military may only serve on the court martial when an accused requests that they are, otherwise, the members of the court marital are officers

https://mvets.law.gmu.edu/2019/01/15/criminal-justice-vs-military-justice/

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Don't be floored if there is a reduction in penalty before too long. That is typically part of the court martial process.

Note that I am not a lawyer and don't even play on on the tubes. However, I was a newspaper reporter in places like Beaufort (Parris training and air bases). Courts martial are generally set up for automatic appeals of harsh sentences. Those rarely vacate a verdict but often lead to lesser sentences.

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Supposedly it was Groucho who quipped, "Military justice is to justice what military music is to music."

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What does it make the civilian justice in this case?

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I was on a grand jury for a couple of years and it's really hard not to indict someone. My group had a 100% indictment rate. While we did have one dude that voted to not indict every time because he didn't want to be there (participation is involuntary, you're summoned by the government), we always hit the minimum required number of people to indict, meaning, we collectively thought that the accused may have committed a crime. We left the "proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" thing for the trial courts.

I think we had about 20 people and needed around 13 to say "yeah that person might have committed a crime here". Most people were inclined to vote to indict because A. You only heard the prosecutor's side of the story so it made the accused seem pretty guilty, B. the cases tended to be really boring and the jurors wanted to stop hearing evidence and go home and C. I think some jurors didn't understand what was going on and voted to indict so the trial court could handle it. As an aside, we typically had at least one person nod off during the presentation of evidence every week. We listened to multiple cases one day a week for two years. You get reimbursed for transportation expenses and receive $40 each day you're at the courthouse.

Bringing it back to the case at hand, I would guess that the prosecutor went to the grand jury and said "we don't have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this occurred, so vote to not indict." I can't remember where I heard about this happening, might have been a BC law student or something, but I believe this can happen when the prosecutor is pressured by the public and needs to make it look like something is being done. Grand jurors are not allowed to talk about which cases they're on outside of the courtroom so the public wouldn't hear about this. Alternatively, the jury could have been told to not indict if the prosecutor felt it was better handled by the military court. A third possibility would be the grand jurors deciding on their own accord to not indict, but I personally believe that to be unlikely.

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When a person kills another person, they should get pretty severe punishment. This seems like an insufficient penalty, but it is closer to full justice than letting the guy walk.

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