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The Court-Martial

Posted on Sunday August 18th, 2019 @ 8:34pm by Libby Ellison & Tabitha Vale Ph.D. & James Eve

Mission: #1 Prelude
Location: Earth, Vienna - UN Starfleet Headquarters
Timeline: FLASHBACK - 2241.10.18 09h02

Summary: Tabitha Vale attends the final day of a court-martial during which JAG officers Lieutenants James Eve and Libby Ellison face off against each other.

= BEGIN

"This court-martial is hereby convened under Article 24 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Admiral Christine Davenport, military judge, presiding. All rise!"

All those present in Court Room 4 at the United Nations Starfleet Headquarters rose as Judge Admiral Christine Davenport entered the room from an antechamber. She made her way to the bench as the military personnel stood at attention and before taking her seat, she simply declared, "Sit."

There was a moment of silence as she studied the documents in front of her and then she looked at both the prosecution and defense seated on opposite sides of the court.

"We've come to the third and final day in this court martial of Lieutenant Jean Richelle. I will now hear closing arguments from the prosecution and the defense. Lieutenant Ellison, are you ready to proceed?"

"Yes, Your Honour," Lieutenant Libby Ellison said as she stood up. She straightened in her uniform and stepped forward before beginning her statement.

"Your Honour, distinguished members of the jury panel. Lieutenant Jean Richelle is charged with the violation of Starfleet General Order 12, Sub-Section C, a violation which puts him squarely within the realm of insubordination, including dereliction of duty. His failure to follow orders from a superior officer in command - in this case Captain William Leonidas - nearly cost the lives of two of Captain Leonidas' officers.

"In this regard, we have heard testimony from Lieutenant Richelle's commanding officer and officers serving with him. We have heard testimony from Captain Leonidas and officers serving under his command. While listening to them, at times I wondered whether the testimonies we heard were about the same man, but they did have one thing in common, and that is the fact that Lieutenant Richelle is disposed towards reckless behaviour.

"Even Admiral Agos, who was responsible for authorising Lieutenant Richelle's controversial commendation, conceded that the type of bravery necessary to be considered for the Silver Star requires a kind of disregard for one's own safety. Is such disregard not just as easily interpreted as recklessness when it puts the lives of others in danger, as in Lieutenant Richelle's case? Where do we draw the line between bravery and recklessness? Do those who serve and protect our planet have to die first in order for those who put their lives at risk to be held responsible? I certainly hope not."

What she lacked in physical stature, Libby more than made up for with her confidence. After she had finished, she glanced over to the defense table where Lieutenant James Eve sat, her eyes issuing him a challenge.

"The prosecution rests, Your Honour," Libby said as she turned from the jury panel back to the judge and nodded, indicating she was done as she walked back to the prosecution table to take her seat.

Seated in the Gallery, Tabitha Vale watched the young lawyer return to her chair thinking how pale and drawn she looked despite her strong words and noted the glimmer of a smile she gave to her aide. She thinks she’s won the case.

"Lieutenant Eve," Admiral Davenport said after she'd made a few notes following the prosecution's closing argument. "Defense may now proceed."

Tabitha turned her head slightly to watch James Eve as he got to his feet looking straight at the Judge. Beside him Lieutenant Richelle also watched him stand as the dull murmur that followed Libby's words died away and a hush descended in the courtroom.

Most of the observers were crew from UNS Macedonia, Captain Leonidas’ ship, the same ship where the incident in question had originated. Their dislike of Richelle was almost tangible, a fact he was most certainly aware of. Tabitha watched him shift slightly on his chair, the movement causing bright glints to shine from the medal he wore pinned to his uniform tunic, the Starfleet Silver Star medal he’d received from Admiral Agos some three weeks ago.

Conscious of all eyes upon him as he had taken his seat on the first day of the trial, Jean Richelle had initially stared unmoving at the desk in front of him but as time passed he had relaxed enough to glance now and then at James, at Judge Admiral Davenport and a few times at Libby as though he couldn't believe that he was part of the events, the medal glinting each time he moved.

James ignored the prosecution council as he had throughout the entire trial. Tabitha wasn't entirely sure why this was but had her suspicions.

Snippets of memory passed through her mind as she watched James step around his desk, starting with the first couple of times they had met when neither then knew who the other was, learning that fact when they were assigned to work together and met for lunch.

“You didn't tell me you were a psychologist,” he’d said.

“I didn't know you were a lawyer,” she’d replied and as they'd smiled at each other, in that moment a rapport was forged which had lasted all of fifteen seconds.

Two women had appeared at their table, both in Starfleet uniform. One had spoken to James greeting him by first name and asking how he was. He had seemed more than surprised to see her and not in an overly pleased way. The second woman had remained a couple of steps back watching her companion with some concern.

“Libby Ellison...” the shorter of the two women had said by way of introduction to Tabitha. “This is my aide, Kylie,” a dismissive gesture towards the beautiful woman accompanying her. Tabitha gave her own name and offered a hand which was overlooked, Libby's attention already refocused on James, the tension heavy in the air.

It seemed they were to be opposing counsel in the coming trial of a fighter pilot; James as defense and Libby as prosecution. Although James said he looked forward to it, the tone of his voice suggested the opposite. Tabitha, aware of an undercurrent, had stayed silent but she wasn't wrong to suspect it for Libby raised her head and uttered an almost inaudible sound in response to James comment of, “Like old times isn't it?”

Kylie stepped forward at once, laying a hand on Libby’s arm and asking if they should leave now. “It’s alright Kylie,” came the reply but it wasn't, Tabitha knew it as clear as day.

“Could do without that,” James had said, watching the pair depart then directing his gaze to meet Tabitha’s added, “I wasn't expecting to see her again.”

Exactly why he didn't say. Tabitha had turned her head to watch the pair, Kylie having laid her arm across Libby's back as though to reassure or comfort her. When she looked back, James was watching her. She hadn't asked for an explanation but one was forthcoming just the same.

“We used to live together,” he’d said speaking matter of factly. “We’d mentioned marriage at one point.”

“Oh?” Now it was Tabitha's turn to sound surprised and she’d turned her head in the direction Libby and her companion had taken. “I thought that-- ahh… right.” She’d looked back to him giving a small smile.

“You thought what?” he’d asked.

“That Libby and her friend were a couple?”

James had frowned, confusion crowding his expression.

“All the concerned looks… the touchy-feely hands on arm and shoulders thing?” she’d said to explain her reasoning.

He’d shrugged and smiled back to her without further comment. The following day they’d begun working together.

Her part of the case was to provide an assessment of the fighter pilot, a Frenchman named Jean Richelle, a tall muscular man with more than his share of good looks a fact which he used to his own advantage on a regular basis. It was soon apparent that he had but two interests, the first being flying and the second women. After making her report she saw little of James, having other work of her own to complete, but on the day of the trial she'd made certain to be free.

“Your Honour,“ he now began. ”Contrary to the prosecution's mistaken opinion, we are not here to discuss whether Lieutenant Richelle is disposed towards reckless behaviour or not. He is charged with the violation of Starfleet General Order 12, Sub-Section C: insubordination, dereliction of duty, a failure to follow orders from a superior officer in command. His character is not in question and has no bearing on the charge we are here to resolve.

“The testimony from Lieutenant Richelle's commanding officer and officers serving with him should be considered carefully. Captain Leonidas has become accustomed over the years to handpicking his crew and it was this good fortune, or lack of, which took Lieutenant Richelle to Captain Leonidas’ ship.

“Each of this 'handpicked' crew owe their captain loyalty for one reason or another and as we heard, none will speak a word against him, including the newly assigned XO, because their obligations are deemed too strong. His crew look on Leonidas with awe and hold him somewhere between a Benevolent Father and a Divine Being.”

Shouts erupted from the gallery in protest to James’ characterisation of Captain Leonidas and Judge Admiral Davenport didn’t hesitate to respond. “Order!” she demanded as the gavel struck the bench twice. The gallery instantly quieted down, her tone and reputation having left no room for dissent. “This is a military courtroom and I expect those present to behave themselves accordingly. Lieutenant Eve, carry on.”

James continued his point once silence resumed.

“As Richelle boarded the ship from a medical shuttle following his rescue of the Macedonia pilot, he was himself badly shaken and lucky to be alive. Yet Leonidas announced before a number of crew that the Lieutenant was guilty of the charges then not yet brought against him and had the man restrained and taken to the Brig, so setting the scene of guilt. Leonidas did nothing to stop the beating Lieutenant Richelle endured nor did he contact Richelle's own commanding officer, both of which pass as a case of dereliction of duty.”

“Objection,” Libby said as she quickly rose from her seat, clearly incensed by what James was saying. “These are unfounded allegations, Your Honour. No charges were ever brought against Captain Leonidas for dereliction of duty.”

“Sustained,” the judge replied after a moment, glancing at James. “Continue, Lieutenant Eve.”

James posed a supposition of Leonidas choosing Richelle for a probable ‘one way’ mission so that his own men were in less danger, knowing Richelle was a dare-devil willing to take risks. He was expendable, dispensable, unimportant. This, James suggested, was born out of the fact that Richelle had only just discovered the full details of the mission from a flight engineer as he climbed into his fighter. No training and no team spirit had been given or attempted.

"This approach," James said, "speaks volumes for Richelle’s bravery but far more for Leonidas’ planning."

A pause, long enough for this fact to be absorbed, then James spoke again.

“The prosecution chooses to question the wisdom of Admiral Agos in authorising Lieutenant Richelle's commendation but perhaps she should have repeated ‘all’ of what the Admiral said.” He walked back to his desk and tapped a command on his tablet that replayed a hologram of Admiral Agos giving testimony.

“Yes, I concede that one person’s bravery can seem to another to be folly, especially in extreme cases like those required for the Silver Star. But that is why we look closely at each officer’s actions and evaluate it on a case by case basis. We take into account the mission parameters and measure their actions accordingly,” the hologram said. “The Silver Star requires heroism, exemplifying the best quality that Starfleet officers possess: the ability to place others’ lives before their own, to take action where others would hesitate.”

“And yes they did hesitate," James said as the hologram faded. "We heard the audio logs of the incident. It was clear enough that Richelle went forward to help when Leonidas’ pilots hesitated.”

More noise erupted from the gallery, specifically from the area where the Macedonia officers sat.

“Enough!” Davenport bellowed as her hand reached for the gavel. “Sergeant, remove all Macedonia personnel from my courtroom immediately. Anyone who resists will be held in contempt and fined one-thousand credits, do I make myself clear?”

Immediately the noise began to die down and the Macedonia personnel reluctantly stood up and began to file out of the court. Davenport looked back at Eve exasperatedly. “Lieutenant,” she gestured for him to continue.

“Your Honour, if all this documented evidence is not enough to clear Lieutenant Richelle’s name, then I beg to present one more point that needs to be considered.”

“Objection, Your Honour!” Libby protested as James requested to approach the bench. “This is highly irregular. Evidence is to be shared during discovery and presented during trial, not closing arguments.”

“She has a point, Lieutenant Eve,” the judge replied. “My patience is starting to wear thin. What is this concerning?”

“Prosecutorial misconduct, Your Honour,” James said as he turned on his heel, strode back to his desk to collect another tablet which he carried to Admiral Davenport, offering it to her with outstretched arm. "I apologise for the delay but the full record was presented to me only this morning."

“Objection!” Libby cried in a shrill voice, throwing her hands in the air.

“Overruled, Lieutenant Ellison,” Davenport replied sternly. “As you’ve just witnessed, I don’t tolerate shouting in my courtroom. Now sit down.” The judge turned her attention back to James, who carried on.

“Your Honour… this is an audio-visual log taken from ship’s records made between 02h30 and 02h46 on 2241.09.26 in the gymnasium on Deck 5 of the UNS Phoenix. The transcript is included and I draw your attention to the highlighted content numbered 1 to 8 which show that the prosecuting counsel was attempting and succeeding in interviewing the defendant, Lieutenant Jean Richelle, using an underhanded method, beginning by pretending that she did not know who he was.
Your Honour… she couldn't ‘fail’ to know who he was having, presumably, seen his image on record by then."

As the judge took the tablet James explained. "At the time he had no idea to whom he was speaking but Lieutenant Ellison had planned the meeting. She had arrived there, a little under two hours before him, having ascertained through security recordings that he was in the habit of attending the gym late at night. It is clear that she led the conversation in hopes that Richelle would somehow incriminate himself and to ensure he didn't leave, she removed some of her clothing on a weak pretext knowing that it would ensure he stayed longer.”

James took a step back but continued to meet the judge admiral’s gaze as he explained an outline.

"She manages the line of conversation attempting to lead him into self incriminating statements, for example: by suggesting losing control leads to letting down your guard, and so making mistakes; that it leads to rash, poorly considered actions with serious outcomes. When he replies with his own opposing opinions on this, she re-words her suggestions a number of times.

“Eventually he tells her he is a pilot and she makes no response because she already knows it. Instead she attempts to set up a second meeting until Lieutenant Richelle tells her his name at which time she feigns shock and has no option but to disclose her own identity. If you could please give the time to study it, Your Honour?” he ended.

Tabitha glanced at Libby seeing her pale face was now ashen and Kylie, seated two rows back, beside herself with agitation.

Davenport was clearly not pleased, the slightly annoyed expression she’d carried on her face all morning have turned to one of outright irritation. She quickly studied the material, but it was clear that she believed it warranted further attention. “This court will take a three-hour recess, during which time I will study the evidence represented by Lieutenant Eve. I want to see both counsellors in my chambers immediately.”
Reaching for the gavel, she struck the bench loudly. “Dismissed!”

Everyone got to their feet as Admiral Judge Davenport swept from the room clutching the tablet James had handed to her. Tabitha saw Richelle speak to James, a look of confusion on his handsome face. James shook his head making a reply as he gathered tablets into a case. People began to exit the courtroom but Libby was seated on her chair, a concerned Kylie at her side but her attention riveted on James.

Tabitha filed along the row of vacated seats in her turn but by the time she reached the end of it and turned to look at James, he had already gone.

= END

LtCmdr Tabitha Vale, Ph.D.
Psychologist
UN Starfleet Medical Corps

LtJG James Eve
Law Officer
UN Starfleet JAG Corps


LtJG Libby Ellison
Law Officer
UN Starfleet JAG Corps

 

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