Accused Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher’s legal team has filed a motion to remove restrictions that are hindering his ability to prepare for his trial in May – restrictions that his team says are the result of command attempting to exert “unlawful command influence.”
The motion, filed Tuesday, asks for Gallagher’s pre-trial restrictions to be removed, as they were “improperly and unlawfully” implemented by Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Group 1 Commodore Capt. Matthew Rosenbloom, Gallagher’s commander.
The motion asserts that Rosenbloom has “improperly prejudged his desired outcome” for the case, an action Gallagher’s legal team says is unlawful and is intentionally hampering their client’s ability to assist in his own defense.
“It is unfortunate that this motion became necessary to file,” Tim Parlatore, one of Gallagher’s civilian attorneys, told American Military News on Wednesday. “We gave Captain Rosenbloom every opportunity to discuss the matter and try to reach an agreeable solution that would both alleviate his concerns, while also ensuring that Chief Gallagher’s Constitutional rights were protected. Captain Rosenbloom did not want to have that conversation with us or work out a resolution, so we had no choice but to present it to the judge.”
Gallagher was moved March 30, just hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that the 15-year SEAL would be moved from confinement in the brig to “less-restrictive confinement” at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego ahead of his trial on May 28. Gallagher had been held in the brig and kept in pre-trial confinement with sex offenders for more than seven months, with insufficient access to legal counsel and medical care, his family has said.
The motion requests that the pre-trial restrictions be removed “because the President did not delegate the authority to order any conditions of pre-trial restraint to Capt. Rosenbloom.”
Even if the court finds that Rosembloom has authority to order and implement pre-trial restrictions, he has already violated Rules for Court-Martial (RCM) section 304, the motion notes.
The conditions Rosenbloom has placed on Gallagher “serve absolutely no legitimate purpose and serve only to punish SOC Gallagher,” the motion points out.
“… [The] conditions are both punitive and tantamount to confinement, which directly violates the order from President Trump releasing SOC [Special Operations Chief] Gallagher from confinement. Finally, Capt. Rosenbloom is attempting to exert unlawful command influence over SOC Gallagher and deny him his Constitutional right to participate in his own defense,” the motion notes.
Rosenbloom claims in a letter sent this week to Gallagher’s defense team, and reviewed by American Military News, that the order from President Trump “is a restriction order, not an entitlement order,” and he defended his restrictions.
“I have a reasonable belief: offenses triable by Court-Martial have been committed; SOC [Special Operations Chief] Gallagher committed the offenses; and the restraint ordered is required by the circumstances,” Rosenbloom writes in his letter. “In line with determinations previously made by both the Initial Reviewing Officer and the Military Judge, I find the stipulations of restriction are required to prevent attempts by SOC Gallagher to intimidate witnesses and obstruct justice.”
Gallagher has been out of the brig for about a week and a half, but he has been faced with more restrictions than he had while in pre-trial confinement, including more rules about phone calls and visitors, and no use of a computer to review his legal defense or other documents, according to his family.
His family says the new restrictions are almost worse than his conditions in the brig – and that Gallagher shouldn’t have been confined or be restricted in the first place. The Navy, however, argues that its treatment of Gallagher has been consistent since he was put in the brig in September, and that he always had access to attend his medical and legal appointments, and that the restrictions are in place for a reason.
Gallagher is charged with premeditated murder of an already fatally wounded ISIS prisoner in Mosul, Iraq, during his last deployment in 2017, allegedly stabbing the prisoner with a hunting knife. He also faces other charges, including aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon and obstruction of justice. However, some of the charges are expected to be dropped, according to Gallagher’s legal team, as evidence and new information that has come up in the case refutes the claims.