The Caine Mutiny 2019: #NavyLegality

in Classic Literature

This post originally appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Following the death of Herman Wouk last week, authorities reportedly discovered that he had recently completed a modern update to his 1951 classic, The Caine Mutiny.  The new story follows Ensign Keith and Lieutenant Maryk as they try to survive the tormenting command of Commander Queeg aboard the brand new DDG, USS Caine, in 2019.  Rumor has it DeNiro is already signed on to reprise Humphrey Bogart’s iconic portrayal of Queeg in the movie version.

The Salty Herald managed to obtain an exclusive copy of the manuscript and I’d like to share an excerpt with my best friends. The following is an excerpt from the Court Martial of Lieutenant Maryk for his attempted mutiny on USS Caine, this time reimagined for how it might unfold in 2019:

(The courtroom stands as Judge Blakely enters and silently proceeds to his place)

Judge Blakely: All right, let’s get started. Lieutenant Maryk, you are charged with mutiny under Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with intent to usurp or override lawful military authori-

Lieutenant Commander Challee (Judge Advocate): <interrupting> Your honor, the government would also like to add a charge of treason against the United States!

Blakely: <becoming visibly frustrated> Uh, that’s not how this works, and you haven’t presented any evidence to support such a charge.  There is no historical precedent.  You haven’t even identified a unique article or specification to apply.  If anything, you seem to be equating acts of mutiny and sedition with treason.

Challee: We know, but we’re really mad at him, and <whispering> we were going to offer to drop the treason charge if he accepts a plea deal!

Blakely: I’m just going to ignore that.  Lieutenant Maryk, how do you plead on the charge that you committed mutiny in USS Caine?

Lieutenant Greenwald (Defense Counsel): Your honor, we move to dismiss the charge of mutiny on grounds of unlawful command influence! <gasps from the gallery>

Blakely: <sighs> Continue…

Greenwald: Your honor, I argue my client has been robbed of the opportunity to receive a fair trial due to comments made by senior Navy leaders.  On more than one occasion, admirals who have influence over this court made public statements implicating Lieutenant Maryk’s culpability in the incident.  For example, one said, and I quote “He’s guilty.  He’s stupid, crazy guilty.  He’s more guilty than Bill Cosby after a night at the disco in 1978.  I’d expect the judge to sentence him to 20 years at least!”

Blakely: Judge Advocate, do you have a response?

Challee: Sir, to be fair, I believe those remarks were made by the admiral’s PAO.

Greenwald: <interjecting> Your honor, one more thing…

Blakely: <sarcastically> By all means, continue!

Greenwald: I further allege the government engaged in illegal surveillance of my correspondence. I discovered a data recording software embedded in an email from Lieutenant Challee. 


Greenwald: Your honor, I also found this camera hidden in my office fern, clearly stenciled “PROPERTY OF U.S. NAVY. IF FOUND, PLEASE RETURN TO LCDR JOHN CHALLEE, JAG CORPS”

Challee: <nervously> I’ve never seen that before in my life!  Besides, it is common practice in today’s Navy to secretly record your shipmates!

<Judge Blakely buries his head into his hands and sighs>

Blakely: Be that as it may, I have no choice but to grant the motion.  All charges are dismissed.  This trial is concluded.

<Challee and Greenwald walk out of the courtroom>

Challee: That’s fine, we’re just going to write him a strongly worded letter and be done with it.

Greenwald: Yeah well, the President would’ve pardoned him anyway, so there!

Blakely: <back in his chambers, slumping in his chair, speaking to himself> Well, I guess this is what naval justice looks like today.  Amazingly, that still wasn’t the most disappointing ending of 2019.

R.I.P. Herman Wouk (Author’s Note: I have no idea whether Herman Wouk would have found this funny, but I’m quite sure he wouldn’t be laughing at the state of the naval justice system today.)

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