The Military Court of Appeals stopped court-martial proceedings yesterday against a Coast Guard officer whose ship collided with a freighter, killing 11 servicemen.
The three-judge civilian court stayed the court-martial of Chief Warrant Officer Donald K. Robinson, who commanded the cutter Cuyahoga when it sank in the Chesapeake Bay last Oct. 20.
Robinson's Coast Guard Attorney, Lt. Stanley Fuger had told the appeals court the proceedings should be stopped because the military judge should disqualify himself.
The court's one-page order gives the Coast Guard until July 2 to present written arguments showing why the court-martial shoudl proceed. No oral argument has been scheduled.
Robinson's judge, Cmdr. Richard Appelbaum, refused to disqualify himself when the court-martial opened in Yorktown, Va., on Tuesday. Defense attorney Jerome Flanagan said military law requires Appelbaum's disqualification because the Coast Guard commandant, Adm. J. B. Hayes, who convened the court-martial, is responsible for semiannual performance reports on Applebaum, the Coast Guard's only full-time judge.
Flanagan cited a section of the Uniform code of Military Justice, which says "neither the convening authority nor any member of his staff shall prepare or review any report concerning the effectiveness, fitness or efficiency of the military judge."
Appelbaum said the code prohibited the commandant from writing the performance report during the period of the court-martial.
The unanimous ruling stopping the trial was handed down by military appeals Judges Albert B. Fletcher Jr., William H Cook and Mathew J. Perry.