West v. United States Navy
ORDER AND REASONS - IT IS ORDERED that the 1 petition for a writ of mandamus is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the 5 motion for a preliminary injunction is DISMISSED AS MOOT. Signed by Judge Lance M Africk. (bwn)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
JAMES CRAWFORD, III
ORDER AND REASONS
Plaintiff Luke West asks this Court to intervene with a preliminary injunction
and a writ of mandamus in connection with his ongoing military justice proceedings. 1
West argues that this Court’s intervention is urgently needed because this Court’s
review will be more circumscribed in collateral proceedings and because West will be
forced to expend significant funds in the ongoing military justice proceedings.
West’s attempted end-run around the traditional limits on judicial review of
military justice proceedings is blocked by Supreme Court precedent. In Schlesinger
v. Councilman, the Supreme Court held “that when a serviceman charged with crimes
by military authorities can show no harm other than that attendant to resolution of
his case in the military court system, the federal district courts must refrain from
intervention, by way of injunction or otherwise.” 420 U.S. 738, 758 (1975). Under
Councilman, federal courts must generally abstain from intervention in military
justice proceedings “unless all available military remedies have been exhausted.” Id.
R. Doc. Nos. 1, 5. West requests that the Court preclude the Judge Advocate General
from (1) supplementing the record of West’s court martial and (2) reopening the
review of West’s court martial. West also requests that the Court order the Judge
Advocate General to either (1) dismiss the charges against West or (2) order a retrial.
R. Doc. No. 5-1, at 1-2.
This matter—which primarily concerns the parties’ competing views as to
proper post-trial procedure under the Rules for Court Martial and the Uniform Code
of Military Justice—presents the archetypical situation where Councilman
abstention is warranted. There is, quite simply, no justification for this Court’s
present involvement in this dispute that “outweighs the strong considerations
favoring exhaustion of remedies or that warrants intruding on the integrity of
military court processes.” Councilman, 420 U.S. at 761.
Accordingly, as Councilman abstention is appropriate to prevent unnecessary
friction between the civilian and military court systems, the Court will accept West’s
invitation2 to consolidate the merits of the mandamus petition with the Court’s
consideration of the motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court dismisses the
mandamus petition without prejudice so that West may exhaust his available
remedies pursuant to Councilman. The motion for a preliminary injunction will be
dismissed as moot. This Court expresses no view on the underlying validity of West’s
IT IS ORDERED that the petition for a writ of mandamus is DISMISSED
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for a preliminary injunction is
DISMISSED AS MOOT.
See R. Doc. No. 14, at 2 (“FRCP Rule 65(a)(2) provides that the merits of the
underlying action may be consolidated with the merits of the motion for preliminary
New Orleans, Louisiana, April 6, 2017.
LANCE M. AFRICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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