Recently, a military court dismissed charges against a former Marine scout sniper who pleaded guilty to urinating on Taliban corpses, finding that former Commandant Gen. James Amos had illegally interfered with the legal process by dismissing the original judge that refused to set the case against him.

Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin was reduced in rank to sergeant and ordered to pay $500 after he pleaded guilty to charges coming from the 2011 incident in Afghanistan, which became a national scandal after video of the Marines urinating on the bodies was posted on social media  a year later.

On Wednesday, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Appeals found that Amos had replaced Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser as the first convening authority in the case after telling Waldhauser that he wanted the Marines involved with the urination incident to be “crushed” and discharged.

Amos later removed himself from the case, however, but the damage had already been done and any evidence of the case being fixed against the Marines involved had been covered up.

The Marine Corps Times reported that a military court now says that Amos’s interference in the case had prevented the Marines from receiving a fair ruling:

“This is an unusually flagrant example of UCI (unlawful command influence),” the court ruled.

“We find that UCI this direct, and occurring at this level is highly corrosive to public trust in this proceeding.”


“The appellant had a right to discovery and a right to judicial process free from UCI,” the court found. “An accused does not forfeit his right to discovery because the government’s preferred UCI remedy requires it.”

As a result, the military court has since dropped the charges against Chamblin.

In 2013, retired Lt. Col. James Weirick, filed a “series of complaints” about Chamblin’s loss of due process. He described the ruling in this case “historic” and said, “It’s hard to imagine underplaying the significance of this.”

Weirick believes that this case reveals the need to change the way cases are prosecuted and suggests even turning them over to the civilian Justice Department.

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