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Navy Court of Inquiry Procedures

March 5, 2001

A Navy court of inquiry is a formal board of investigation charged with examining an incident and making opinions and recommendations, which can lead to further disciplinary action such as a court-martial or to policy changes.

The three USS Greeneville officers who are the subject of the investigation are Cmdr. Scott Waddle, Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Pfeifer and Lt. j.g. Michael Coen. Three admirals were designated as members of the court.

During the procedure:

_Testimony is given under oath.

_The board may order military witnesses and subpoena civilian witnesses to testify.

_A party in the inquiry may, but is not required, to testify. Parties retain their rights against self-incrimination.

_The court proceeds much like a judicial proceeding: Witnesses will be questioned, then cross-examined. If necessary, further direct and cross-examination will follow, then questioning by court members. Witnesses are allowed to add anything they believe is relevant.

_The court itself has its own counsel, who presents evidence and does the direct examination of witnesses except those called by one of the parties. His role is to disclose facts in an impartial manner.

_At the conclusion, court members deliberate privately and produce a report of findings of fact, opinions and recommendations. The report is forwarded to the officer who convened the court for final action.

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