New legal team to represent Lynndie England
Army restarts court-martial case in Abu Ghraib scandal
From Jim Polk
FORT HOOD, Texas (CNN) -- Pfc. Lynndie England, once called the "poster child" of Abu Ghraib, will have a different legal team Tuesday when the Army restarts its last remaining court-martial case in the prison abuse scandal.
A military spokesman confirmed that civilian attorney Rick Hernandez, who had been representing England when a favorable plea deal for her fell apart three weeks ago, has left the case, and the young reservist from West Virginia will now be represented by two military lawyers.
The Army has refiled the same seven counts to which England pleaded guilty on May 2, before the military judge declared a mistrial two days later. The judge nullified a deal that would have sent England to prison for no more than 2 1/2 years.
As a result, England again faces up to a maximum of 11 years in a military prison on charges that include conspiracy, maltreatment of Iraqi detainees, and sexual indecency.
All the charges involve various photos in which England posed with naked Iraqis, one on a dog leash, and others stacked in a human pyramid, then later lined against a wall in a sexually humiliating position.
It was Hernandez, the attorney from Denver, who called England the poster child of the scandal last year. He did not answer attempts to reach him for comment on his departure from the case.
Capt. Jonathan Crisp, from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, who had been assisting Hernandez, now becomes the lead lawyer. Joining him will be a newcomer to the case, Capt. Katherine Krul, also from Fort Jackson.
The court proceedings Tuesday are expected to be routine. This will be an Article 32 hearing, a preliminary procedure to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to order a full court-martial. England already underwent such a hearing last year, with a week and a half of testimony by prosecution witnesses.
In resuming the case with the same charges that remained at the time of the mistrial, the court may simply incorporate much of the record from the previous hearing.
When she pleaded guilty to the seven counts on May 2, England admitted she knew what she was doing was wrong. She said the Army guards staged the scenes of humiliation and sexual degradation, in her words, "for their own amusement."
But two days later, during the sentencing proceedings, Hernandez called to the witness stand her ex-boyfriend, Pvt. Charles Graner, now serving 10 years for his role as the apparent ringleader of the abuse.
Graner insisted England was acting on his instructions in posing for the dog-leash photo, which he said he took to show other guards a proper tactic for extracting a reluctant detainee from his cell.
The judge, Col. James Pohl, interrupted and told England's lawyers they could not try to present a defense case after she already had pleaded guilty. Therefore, he invalidated her plea on that one count, declared a mistrial for the entire proceeding, and tossed the plea deal out of court.
Pohl is expected to be the presiding officer again when the England case resumes Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT. It is the only Abu Ghraib case left to be tried.
Eight other Army reservists, either MP guards or military intelligence operatives, already have faced court-martial proceedings. Graner's sentence was the longest. The ranking sergeant in the cell block area received eight years. The other six all got sentences of a year or less.