On January 24, Michael New was convicted by a military jury of disobedience to a lawful order. He was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge with no other punishment imposed. The jury could have also imposed up to six months in jail and other punishments.
The actual verdict was largely a foregone conclusion because of a ruling by the trial judge the previous Friday, January 19. In that ruling the judge held that the order to wear the United Nations uniform and to deploy under foreign commanders was a lawful order.
The essence of the defense before the jury was that the order was unlawful. The judge, however, took that element away from the jury and simply ruled that they must decide that the order was lawful.
It was a highly unusual move for a judge to tell a jury that one element of the criminal offense had already been established. This provides an additional issue of considerable merit in the military appeals process.
Michael New will be discharged from the military at some point in the near future. An exact date has not yet been established.
An exact timetable for the military appeals is not known, but it is expected to take months if not years.
However, Michael Farris filed a habeas corpus petition in federal district court in Washington, D.C., on January 16. Since lead counsel, Ron Ray, was already on his way to Germany, Farris argued the case in the D.C. District Court before Judge Paul Friedman.
Friedman granted an emergency hearing the same day the habeas corpus was filed. The hearing lasted for an hour and the judge issued a written ruling the same day. Friedman denied the request for an emergency stay which would have immediately stopped the military prosecution, but ruled that the Army must answer the habeas corpus because, "In view of the language of the U.N. Participation Act and the legislative history cited by petitioner, petitioner has raised important issues on the merits."
This habeas corpus matter is now set for hearing on March 18. The challenge will be to convince the federal court to take the matter before the military courts have finished the appellate process.
Farris predicted the ultimate resolution will take some time. "This case has 'Supreme Court' written all over it. Such cases are extremely important, but they always take a long time."
Since our initial report on the Michael New case in the fall issue of the Home School Court Report, a number of our members have asked: "Why is HSLDA involved in the Michael New case?" We have three basic reasons for our involvement.
- Michael New was home schooled. Although this is only a relatively minor reason for our involvement, its importance was demonstrated on the eve of the court-martial trial when we received an emergency request from Ron Ray for background only HSLDA could provide. The Army prosecutors indicated they intended to argue that Michael New was a "malcontent" because he was home schooled. Because of our involvement in the case we were able to fax a number of documents to Germany to equip the military trial lawyers with the necessary defense. It was good that HSLDA was there to prevent any kind of slander to be done to this young man and to home schoolers in general over this issue.
- We are engaged in active litigation on the right of home schoolers to enter the United States military. We do not want to litigate the right to enter the service of the United States only to find that our sons and daughters have been assigned to serve another sovereign-the United Nations-against their will. We see the two issues as interconnected. We would not in good conscience fight for the right of home schoolers to serve under the "strategic direction" of the United Nations. If that is what joining the U.S. Armed Forces has become, then we would be forced to rethink our position in these other cases. The best solution is to keep the American military loyal to this country alone so that home schoolers may join our valiant Armed Forces without fear of being traded to the service of a different sovereign.
- The most important reason of all involves our ongoing battle to preserve the sovereignty of this country from subversion from within or United Nations intervention from without. We are actively engaged defending the sovereignty of the United States from U.N. control through the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Forms Against Women. These two treaties, if ratified, would forfeit a major share of our sovereignty on domestic policy to the United Nations. We believe that fighting against forfeiture of our sovereignty to the U.N. in the foreign policy context helps protect against the forfeiture of our sovereignty in the area of domestic policy regarding family and education controlled by these two treaties. Any extension of U.N. jurisdiction over this country places our right as families, as Americans, and as a religious people at grave risk.
Michael New Defense Fund
P.O. Box 1136
Crestwood, KY 40014