Friday, March 14, 2003

Iraq-bound soldiers get pass from judge



The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Nashville judge has ordered that Iraq-bound soldiers from Fort Campbell, Ky., arrested on any misdemeanors will have their charges dismissed, according to a memo.

The order marks the first time local courts have agreed to immediately release Fort Campbell soldiers who are arrested for anything from vandalism to DUI. Fort Campbell is about 50 miles northwest of Nashville, and many soldiers from the post visit the city for shopping and entertainment.

Davidson County General Sessions Judge Gloria Dumas said the policy is not intended to release violent offenders. Dumas said a soldier's duty in a potential conflict outweighs his or her duty to be punished if convicted of a criminal misdemeanor charge.

Dumas said she recently dismissed a case of disorderly conduct against a Fort Campbell soldier arrested in downtown Nashville.

"If you think that potentially going to die for the country is a free pass, then I guess he does (get a free pass)," Dumas said. "I wouldn't think that having to go to sit in the desert and wait for war would be a preferential place he would choose to be."

Misdemeanors are lesser offenses, but include some charges of DUI, assault and domestic violence.

Fort Campbell did not respond to a request by The Tennessean newspaper for information on the order, leaving unclear what action, if any, the military would take when the soldiers returned to post.

The exact number of cases dismissed was not available. Night Court Commissioner Thomas Edward Nelson said he has released about a dozen soldiers, even before the policy was official.




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