• Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


nolatom last won the day on July 6 2018

nolatom had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

105 F'n Saint

About nolatom

  • Rank
    Super Anarchist
  • Birthday 07/18/1949

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Location
    New Orleans

Recent Profile Visitors

7,818 profile views
  1. nolatom

    Coast Guard Mutual Assistance

    Okay, this is further good news: R 181702 JAN 19 FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-1// TO ALCOAST UNCLAS //N07220// ALCOAST 013/19 COMDTNOTE 7220 SUBJ: UPDATE TO EXPANDED CGMA LOAN LIMITS AND PROCESS A. ALCOAST 434/18 COAST GUARD MUTUAL ASSISTANCE (CGMA) AVAILABILITY DURING THE LAPSE IN DHS APPROPRIATIONS B. ALCOAST 012/19 EXPANDED LIMITS TO CGMA LOANS DURING LAPSE IN APPROPRIATIONS 1. This notice announces a further increase to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) interest free loans. As donations continue to pour in to CGMA, we will continue to evaluate the maximum amount that a member may borrow. There is no limit to the number of loans that a member may request from CGMA; only a total loan ceiling. 2. Updated total limit for CGMA lapse assistance interest-free loans: a. Up to $1500 for personnel with dependents; b. Up to $1000 for personnel without dependents; c. An unchanged condition is that if individual circumstances dictate, any person may apply for funds in excess of the established limits (a-b above). They must personally visit a local CGMA representative to complete the full application process. 3. Procedures: Procedures for both requesting a loan and recoupment remain the same. 4. Current lapse in appropriations information can be found at:, this site contains authoritative documents, Frequently Asked Questions, an interactive mailbox, a Resources Guide, a helpline, and other useful information. As always, CG SUPRT is available to help (1-855-CG SUPRT (247-8778)) 5. For more information on how to receive assistance, please see your local CGMA representatives. 6. RDML Matthew Sibley, Acting Assistant Commandant for Human Resources, sends. 7. Internet release is authorized. Questions for the Coast Guard? Contact Us For more Coast Guard news, visit our online newsroom here. STAY CONNECTED: SUBSCRIBER SERVICES: Manage Preferences | Unsubscribe | Help Privacy Policy | GovDelivery is providing this information on behalf of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and may not use the information for any other purposes. This email was sent to This email was sent to using GovDelivery Communications Cloud on behalf of: U.S. Coast Guard · U.S. Department of Homeland Security · Washington, DC 20528 · 800-439-1420
  2. Some hull damage reported, it seems. Not to cast blame but, the only two vessels in one large piece of ocean, collide? one "lookout" asleep below for a couple hours, and the other doesn't notice a small sailboat (any AIS signal from the latter?) Oh well, easy for me to keep lookout and navigate from a desk...
  3. My ole man used to tell me, "Kid, the boat's tougher than you are". Good on the M.O.L. containership and the shore units.
  4. nolatom

    Coast Guard Mutual Assistance

    Ditto. Semper Paratus..
  5. nolatom

    Boats with outboards

    doesn't matter which, except for starting up from dead-in-water, whether to depart dock/slip, or to approach it. Whenever there's no flow over the rudder(s), use the outboard to "kick" your stern one way or the other as needed. If you don't, you'll have too much headway/sternway before your rudder gains steering capability. Even more so with twin rudders and centerline outboard.
  6. More bridge and CIC personnel should mean better consultation and decision-making, but too often it has the opposite effect, ie "too many cooks spoil the broth", or the cooks assume someone else is watching the oven, meaning no one is. Merchant ships are bare-bones on bridge manning--one mate, one AB is typical. That Mate has to do "everything"--visual watch, radar, AIS, chart fixes, helm and engine orders, radio, logbook--which is bad because he/she can hit task-overload in a pinch, but good because there's less chance for misunderstandings and dropped-balls where there's only one brain doing the info-gathering and understanding. In the two destroyer/merchant ship collisions, the merchants were stand-on, and counted on Navy knowing they were give-way.
  7. nolatom

    NFL 2018

    As a loyal fair-weather Saints fan, on a 55-degree sunny afternoon, I believe both weather and Saints will be okay.
  8. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    Here's the last word, I would guess, from the daily V I paper. It may have been a charter boat primarily, but not on that delivery trip, said the good Judge, seeing as how the crew were neither paying for passage, nor paid for service. And the US Attorney made a poor choice in trying to make the little-used Seaman's Manslaughter statute (born from boiler explosions and excursion boat fires) fit this trip legally. We don't get to know what the jury would have decided, but I would expect the arguments in the deliberation room would have been much like the discussions here, and on Sailnet: St. John captain acquitted of manslaughter By SUZANNE CARLSON Daily News Staff Suzanne Carlson 7 hrs ago 0 Facebook Twitter SMS Email Facebook Twitter SMS Email Print Save St. John charter Capt. Richard Smith was acquitted of manslaughter Wednesday after a federal judge found that prosecutors had failed to produce evidence sufficient to support the criminal charge against him, abruptly ending his jury trial after two days of emotional testimony. The family of the deceased, David Pontious, were visibly devastated by U.S. District Judge Curtis Gomez’s decision, and his mother sobbed as she left the courtroom. The ruling is not subject to appeal and the statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit has expired. “This is not an easy decision,” Gomez said. “It is not a light thing to do, but under the circumstance, I think the weight of the law doesn’t support the result the government wants.” Smith, 65, owner of the 43-foot sailing vessel Cimarron, was charged Nov. 2 under what federal prosecutors described as the “Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute” in connection with the Oct. 25, 2015, drowning of Pontious, 54, of Beaufort, S.C., a crew member who was helping transport the Cimarron from North Carolina to St. John. Two other crew members aboard the Cimarron at the time, Jacob Pepper and Heather Morningstar, testified that Pontious attacked Smith in the midst of a psychotic delusion before jumping overboard approximately 300 miles offshore. Prosecutors Daniel Huston and Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte argued that Smith was criminally liable for Pontious’s death because he did not stop the Cimarron to search for Pontious. However, defense attorneys David Cattie and Michael Sheesley argued that Pontious’ mutinous behavior posed a threat to the remaining crew. “Obviously I’m pleased, I think it was the correct result. Rick and myself, we feel bad for the Pontious family — you never want to have somebody lose a life, which occurred — but I just don’t think Rick did anything criminal, I don’t think he did anything civilly wrong. It was just a terrible circumstance,” Sheesley said. Cattie agreed that the situation was a tragic anomaly that did not rise to the level of a criminal offense. “Rick had to make an almost impossible decision,” Cattie said. “You heard what happened on that boat, that’s a nightmare scenario for a captain. Rick certainly had no ill will toward David and didn’t want him to die.” U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands Gretchen Shappert declined to comment on the case. Gomez’s decision came after defense attorneys filed a motion for acquittal late Tuesday, arguing that prosecutors had charged Smith under a statute that only applies to vessels engaged in commercial activity. While Smith used the Cimarron for paid charters at other times, Gomez found that the voyage during which Pontious died did not involve commerce because none of the individuals aboard had paid for the trip and were not compensated as employees. Pepper testified that he approached Smith about sailing with him to gain offshore experience, and Morningstar said she went on the trip “to do something completely different.” A third crew member, Candace Martin, also said she went on the trip with Smith because she loved offshore sailing. Martin was unable to complete the journey so she posted an online ad with the Beaufort Yacht Club, to which Pontious responded. Martin left the ship in North Carolina and Pontious took her place. Crew members testified that Pontious became seasick and severely dehydrated, but Morningstar said he was able to work his scheduled watch at the helm Saturday, ate breakfast and dinner, and his condition seemed to be improving. The evening of Saturday, Oct. 24, Morningstar testified that Pontious slipped into a delusional state and became progressively more agitated. “We thought he was kind of turning a corner at that point,” Morningstar said. “Saturday night was when everything started to change.” Pontious believed the crew had kidnapped him to extort ransom money from his father, and hallucinated a door or portal in the sky, through which he believed was a room full of electronics that would help him get back to reality, according to trial testimony. When Smith refused to take him to the portal, Pontious punched and choked him, attempting to wrest control of the helm. Pontius announced to Smith and the other crew that “if you won’t take me there, I’ll go myself,” and jumped overboard at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning, according to trial testimony. He was never seen again. It’s unclear why Pontious had a psychotic break — his brother Andrew and others indicated that Pontious did not have a history of mental illness and his behavior on board the Cimarron was completely out of character — and Cattie said the reasons for his death will likely remain a mystery. “Whatever the reason is, his behavior was altered and the result was fatal and it’s a tragedy,” Cattie said. Prosecutors highlighted the fact that Smith did not deploy an EPIRB remote signaling device, throw a life ring, or stop to engage in a search for Pontious. Smith made contact via radio with a weather router on the morning of Monday, Oct. 26, who summoned the U.S. Coast Guard, which flew a C-130 plane over the Cimarron to establish radio contact and begin the search for Pontious. Smith did attempt to issue a mayday call via radio after Pontious went overboard, to no avail, and Cattie said his decision not to stop sailing after the chaotic, violent episode was indicative of his concern for his remaining crew. “He had to make a decision I don’t ever want to have to make,” Cattie said. Sheesley said that had Pontious not jumped overboard when he did, it’s possible the situation could have resulted in additional deaths. “Rick had a tough choice to make, he made the right one. It ended up saving Heather and Jacob’s life,” Sheesley said. In terms of the government’s prosecution, Sheesley said prosecutors expended a “ridiculous” amount of taxpayer money to hire three experts, retain two case agents, and fly numerous witnesses to the territory to testify at trial — all for a case he believes never should have been brought in the first place. “They have an obligation to know the law, and the law just did not fit the facts,” Sheesley said. While defense attorneys routinely file a motion for acquittal when prosecutors have finished presenting witnesses, “they are denied almost as a matter of course,” Sheesley said. The fact that Gomez granted the motion in this case speaks to prosecutors’ lack of evidence, Sheesley said. “This was part of our case strategy, we knew for months that this law was not applicable to this factual situation and we tailored our examination and evidence to support it,” Sheesley said. Smith had been facing a possible 10-year prison sentence, and even though he is now officially a free man, his life has forever been altered by the trial, Sheesley said. “Emotionally, this is massively taxing. It’s essentially bankrupted him,” Sheesley said. “Like any criminal prosecution it has a huge effect on somebody’s life, even when they’re found not guilty.” — Contact Suzanne Carlson at 340-714-9122 or email
  9. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    Wow. Not yet in the Virgin Islands Daily News. This means the defense did not have to put on its case, as the judge essentially ruled as a matter of law that the evidence wasn't sufficient for any reasonable jury to convict. Principally because, it seems, the judge held that the Seaman's Manslaughter statute doesn't apply to noncommercial vessels, where seamen (crew) aren't "employed", or where passengers pay for their passage.
  10. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    Here's reporter Suzanne Carlson's writeup of the Tuesday testimony at trial: Testimony continues in charter captain's manslaughter trial By SUZANNE CARLSON Daily News Staff Suzanne Carlson 8 hrs ago 0 Facebook Twitter SMS Email Facebook Twitter SMS Email Print Save ST. THOMAS — Two crewmembers of the sailing vessel Cimarron testified in federal court Tuesday that Capt. Richard Smith never stopped to search for fellow crewmember David Pontious after he jumped overboard in the midst of a psychotic episode while hundreds of miles offshore. Meanwhile, defense attorneys worked throughout the day to establish that Smith’s actions were driven not by callousness, but out of concern for his remaining crew, after Pontious physically attacked him and tried to wrest control of the boat, endangering the safety of everyone aboard. Smith, 65, owner of the 43-foot sailing vessel Cimarron, was charged Nov. 2 under what federal prosecutors described as the “Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute” in connection with the Oct. 25, 2015, drowning of Pontious, 54, of Beaufort, S.C., a crewmember who was helping transport the Cimarron from North Carolina to St. John for the winter charter season. Pontious’ name is misspelled in court documents as “Pontius.” Candace Martin testified Tuesday that she traveled from her home in Beaufort, S.C., to Maine in Oct. 2015 to help Smith deliver the Cimarron to St. John, but could not complete the journey and sought a replacement crewmember by placing an ad on an online forum for the Beaufort Yacht Club. Pontious responded to the ad and boarded the Cimarron in North Carolina, joining Smith and two other crewmembers, Jacob Pepper and Heather Morningstar. The ship left North Carolina on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, and Pepper and Morningstar testified about the days leading up to Pontious’ death at around 1:30 a.m. the morning of Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. Defense attorneys Michael Sheesley and David Cattie highlighted various inconsistencies in their testimony and prior statements to U.S. Coast Guard investigators made in 2015, and Martin, Pepper and Morningstar all said at times that they were struggling to recall certain details of the incident three years after it occurred. While Martin was an experienced sailor, Pepper had only begun learning to sail at the time and Morningstar said she had some sailing experience, but had never embarked on such a lengthy offshore journey. All three testified that Smith did not conduct any safety drills prior to starting the journey. Pepper and Morningstar’s testimony conflicted at times, with Pepper asserting that Pontious became seasick almost immediately and his condition steadily declined, preventing him from eating, drinking or working his scheduled shifts at the helm. Morningstar said that Pontious was indeed seasick, but felt well enough to work nearly all of his scheduled watches, and did eat breakfast and dinner on Saturday, Oct. 24. “We thought he was kind of turning a corner at that point,” Morningstar said. “Saturday night was when everything started to change.” While his nausea subsided, Morningstar said Pontious began slipping into delusions and hallucinations, and believed that the crew had kidnapped him to extort ransom money from his father. Pontious hallucinated a “door or portal” in the sky, through which he believed was a room that contained electronic equipment that could transport him back to reality. Smith’s watch began at midnight, and Morningstar said Pontious grew increasingly agitated after he was denied access to the ship’s dinghy and life raft so he could seek out the portal in the sky. “My goal was to just keep him calm because I didn’t know what to physically do at that point,” Morningstar said. Morningstar went below deck but remained on the staircase to the companionway and had a clear view of Smith, Pepper and Pontious in the cockpit. She watched as Pontious attempted to physically wrestle control of the ship’s wheel from Smith, and told him to “just sit down, you’re going to fall.” Pontious punched Smith and at one point put his hands around his throat, Morningstar said. Smith told Pontious, “if you do that one more time, I’m going to slit your throat,” and Pontious said he was going to the portal regardless. “Rick was like, ‘OK, go,’ ” Morningstar said. Pontious jumped overboard and was never seen again. Sheesley seized on Morningstar’s assertion that Smith told Pontious, “OK, go,” — a statement she had never before mentioned in previous interviews with Coast Guard investigators, and suggested she fabricated the detail after discussions with federal prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Huston and Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte. Morningstar said she and Pepper tried to look for Pontious with a spotlight, and asked Smith what to do. “He said Dave was a bigger threat to us in the boat,” Morningstar said. She said Smith refused to throw out a life ring, turn the ship around or put the dinghy overboard. “I wanted to turn the boat around,” Morningstar said. “He did not want to turn the boat around because he thought Dave was too big of a threat.” Morningstar said her fear of Pontious turned to fear of Smith, after she realized she was trapped onboard a ship hundreds of miles offshore with no viable radio communication with a captain who did not stop to search for a missing crewmember. “I’m terrified at this point,” Morningstar said. “We had no training at all for what to do on a man overboard.” Morningstar insisted she marked the coordinates where Pontious went overboard and that Smith did not make any attempt to call for help via radio — assertions Sheesley vehemently challenged, and said Smith did take the coordinates and went below deck to make a mayday call, to no avail. Prosecutors highlighted the fact that Smith did not activate the ship’s VHF radio emergency beacon or the EPIRB device, which issues a distress call that summons U.S. Coast Guard rescuers. Smith made contact with the ship’s weather router via single shortband radio Monday morning — some 36 hours after Pontious went in the water — who summoned the Coast Guard, which flew a C-130 plane over the Cimarron to establish radio communication and begin the search for Pontious. After the plane flew off, Morningstar said Smith threw one of the ship’s two life rings overboard and said “at least it’s going to look like I tried something.” Martin, who said she had a brief flirtation with Smith, testified to her communication with him after Pontious went missing, and said he insisted he’d stopped and searched for Pontious for several hours until dawn. Following interviews with Coast Guard investigators in which they said Smith had kept sailing on to St. John, “he confirmed that he had left David in the middle of the ocean,” Martin said. Sheesley suggested Martin was a jilted lover with a vendetta against Smith, an accusation she adamantly denied. “I’m looking for justice for David,” Martin said. Pontious’ brother Andrew Pontious also gave emotional testimony, describing their close relationship and the family’s heartbreak when David was lost at sea. He and his father Frank traveled to St. John to meet Smith upon his arrival, and he took them out to the Cimarron by dinghy. “We wanted to know the last moments,” Pontious said. Smith told him they’d stayed in the area searching for several hours, and “he said he threw a life ring over immediately after,” Pontious said. “He complained he’d lost a good life ring that had been expensive.” The trial continues today. — Contact Suzanne Carlson at 340-714-9122 or email Facebook Twitter SMS Email Print Save
  11. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    What Smith failed to do (basic MOB procedure), for whatever reason (antipathy? panic? shock and confusion of the moment?) sounds ugly and is ugly, but if his (and crew's?) account that crewmember Pontius, who hit his head on the way over, went under and did not come back up, is uncontradicted and found by the jury to be what happened, then the proximate cause of death would not be the result of Smith's shortcomings. Why we have trials. Juries usually get it right in the end. My news subscription is for 30 days. If you don't want to hear the daily report, let me know. Otherwise I'll keep passing it along. As a very occasional charter captain, and former Coast Guard officer, I'm interested in how it turns out.
  12. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    Here's the V.I. News account of opening statements: Facebook Twitter SMS Email Print Save St. John charter captain Richard Smith’s manslaughter trial began Monday on St. Thomas, and it’s unclear whether the family members of the deceased, David Pontius, will be allowed to remain in the courtroom to hear testimony. Smith, 65, owner of the 43-foot sailing vessel Cimarron, was charged Nov. 2 under what federal prosecutors described as the “Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute.” Smith was charged in connection with the Oct. 25, 2015, drowning of Pontius, 54, of Beaufort, N.C., a crewmember who was helping transport the Cimarron from North Carolina to St. John for the winter charter season. While a U.S. Coast Guard investigator found that Pontius jumped overboard in the midst of a violent psychotic episode and Smith was not at fault, federal prosecutors argue Smith was negligent in not seeking medical attention for Pontius before the fatal incident. Pontius’s sister and parents, Frank and Marilyn Pontius, traveled to the territory for the trial, and were issued subpoenas by defense attorneys when they walked into court Monday. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Huston and Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte argued that defense attorneys Michael Sheesley and David Cattie issued the last-minute subpoenas in an attempt to keep Pontius’ family members out of the courtroom for the duration of the trial. Tejo-Sprotte also cited federal law requiring that victims in criminal trials be allowed to be present in court. Sheesley and Cattie said the Pontius family’s testimony is necessary, and they intend to question them about Pontius’ mental state prior to leaving North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Curtis Gomez agreed that federal law requires witnesses to be sequestered so they are not influenced by other testifiers’ statements, and ordered the Pontius family to leave the courtroom for the remainder of Monday’s proceedings, which began at around 2:30 p.m. and ended shortly before 7 p.m. Gomez ordered defense attorneys to file an ex parte statement justifying the continued sequestration by 10 p.m. Monday, and said he would further consider the issue today. Following jury selection, attorneys made their opening statements, beginning with Huston, who calmly gave a straightforward account of what he said led up to Pontius’s death — a lack of action by Smith. “This case is about a man who needed help” and Smith “failed to provide that help at every opportunity,” Huston said. Smith had recruited three volunteers to help him sail the Cimarron from Maine to St. John, Jacob Pepper, Heather Morningstar, and Candice Martin. Martin left the vessel in North Carolina and arranged for Pontius to take her place for the remainder of the journey because of a prior commitment, and Smith and the other two crewmembers met Pontius for the first time when he boarded the ship. Pontius immediately became seasick when the ship departed North Carolina on Thursday, Oct. 22, and was so ill and dehydrated he started to hallucinate and grew progressively worse Friday into Saturday, Huston said. Late Saturday evening, Huston said Pontius hallucinated a door in the sky — he apparently believed he had been transported to a fake world, and the door would lead him back to reality — and ordered Smith to take him to it. Smith “responded aggressively, something to the effect of, ‘touch my equipment again and I’ll slit your throat,’” Huston said. “After that verbal threat is made, the situation escalates.” Pontius announced to Smith and the other crew that “if you won’t take me there, I’ll go myself,” and stepped off the boat at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning — according to testimony by Pepper — never to be seen again, Huston said. Smith did not stop the Cimarron and “did not even throw a life ring,” Huston said. He acknowledged Smith made “some effort to make radio contact, belatedly,” and did not officially report Smith missing until about 8 a.m. the following day when he told the ship’s weather router via single sideband radio that Pontius had gone overboard more than 24 hours earlier. Smith caused Pontius’s death through negligence, Huston said, and “failed to make any effort whatsoever” after he went overboard. Sheesley shot back in a fiery opening statement that “I’m a little bit upset because I don’t believe that the government has given you the whole story.” Smith is an experienced sailor who has been traveling around the Caribbean since the 1970s, and has made 70 trips to and from Maine and St. John over the decades, Sheesley said. Pontius was also an experienced sailor and sailing instructor, and Smith and other crew members attempted to help Pontius through his bout of seasickness and provide what aid they could while he was incapacitated by nausea, he argued. Sheesley highlighted apparent improvements in Pontius’ condition in the hours before he stepped overboard — including that he ate dinner and stood a two-hour watch from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. — and said crew members were hopeful he would stop hallucinating and return to normal. Instead, Pontius made distressing statements to other crew members indicating he believed he’d been kidnapped and was unsure where he was, and had apparently been taking medication for medical conditions he did not disclose to Smith, Sheesley said. “We don’t know what else David Pontius was on, we don’t know if he was on illegal drugs,” Sheesley said. When Pontius grabbed the ship’s only spotlight in an effort to search for the portal in the sky, Smith wrestled him for it and said if he touched another piece of equipment “I’ll slit your throat you son of a bitch,” Sheesley said. Smith was angry and disoriented by Pontius’ unusual behavior, and was worried for the safety of Pepper and Morningstar, as all three were physically smaller than Pontius, who was more than 6 feet tall and weighed about 260 pounds, Sheesley said. “Imagine, midnight in the middle of the ocean,” Sheesley said. “You can’t get away from him.” Pepper took the stand Monday and described the events leading up to Pontius’ death, at times struggling to recall specific statements or details three years after the incident. Pepper testified that Smith plotted the coordinates where Pontius went overboard and attempted to make mayday calls a few minutes later, but the ship was approximately 300 miles offshore, too far for either the VHF or single sideband radio to make a successful communication. The call Monday morning to a weather router resulted in the U.S. Coast Guard flying a C-130 plane over the boat to enable radio communication with Smith, who continued sailing to St. John, Pepper said. Smith did not throw a life ring overboard or activate an emergency beacon when Pontius went overboard, Pepper testified, but after the plane flew off to search for Pontius’s body, Smith threw a ring into the water and told the remaining crew, “can’t say I didn’t throw a life ring.” Pepper will return to the stand today to continue giving testimony. — Contact Suzanne Carlson at 340-714-9122 or email Facebook Twitter SMS Email Print Save
  13. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    And the Coast Guard report (interview) by LT Jacob Hopper, reads in part, as follows: The Coast Guard investigator, however, said the captain and crew acted appropriately. "Nobody on this vessel was trained for this sort of situation, and I believe they tried to handle it as best they could without comms (communcations) and being so far from shore for assistance," Hooper states in his report. "Once David jumped off the vessel and the Captain saw him sink into the water and not come back up, he was relieved, because at this point David was not a threat to the crew. Hindsight is 20/20 and when not placed in a situation like that, one may ask why didn't you search? Why didn't you throw a life ring and an EPIRB out? The Captain saw him go under and not resurface, and that is why he did not turn back and search, plus he was scared to death that if he [Pontius] got back on the vessel, he would throw other people overboard," the investigator's report states. "I asked the Captain face to face about why he did not throw the EPIRB out with a life ring, and he told me that he never even thought about that with all the fear and terror that was going through his mind," the report states. unquote So the admissibility of this is what the arguments in court are about. It's favorable to Smith, and unfavorable to the Prosecution. Allowing jurors to hear about it would not help the goverment's case, and would indicate to jurors that the Coast Guard probably did not refer this matter for further prosecution. Which is an important point, as typically the US Attorneys have a potential criminal matter "referred" to them by a federal agency (FBI, Coast Guard, etc). And usually don't bring such charges if that agency didn't make such a referral or request.
  14. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    Per the VI newspaper, trial starts this morning: So I subscribed to the V I Daily News. Here's what reporter Suzanne Carlson relates: Charter captain charged in death of crewmember headed to trial Monday By SUZANNE CARLSON Daily News Staff Suzanne Carlson Jan 5, 2019 0 Facebook Twitter SMS Email Facebook Twitter SMS Email Print Save ST. THOMAS — The trial of Capt. Richard Smith, the St. John charter captain charged in connection with a crewmember’s death, is scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court. Smith, owner of the 43-foot sailing vessel Cimarron, was charged Nov. 2 under what federal prosecutors described as the “Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute.” Smith was charged in connection with the drowning of David Pontius, 54, of Beaufort, S.C., a crewmember who was helping transport the Cimarron from North Carolina to St. John for the winter charter season. While a U.S. Coast Guard investigator found that Pontius jumped overboard in the midst of a violent psychotic episode and Smith was not at fault, federal prosecutors intend to present expert testimony that Smith was negligent in not seeking medical attention for Pontius before the fatal incident. Through his attorneys, Michael Sheesley and David Cattie, Smith requested that the court allow defense expert Stephen Richter, a captain and marine consultant, to testify remotely, to avoid the cost of flying him to the territory. Smith said that fighting the charges against him has caused him to deplete his savings and borrow money from friends and family in an attempt to pay his attorneys. U.S. District Judge Curtis Gomez denied that request, and Smith reiterated the request in court filings Friday. Prosecutors have argued that Smith is not indigent and should bear the full cost of transporting Richter to the territory to testify in court, and cited a GoFundMe site set up by his daughter that’s collected a little over $4,000. Cattie responded with a sharply worded motion, arguing that he and Sheesley are working “at a wildly discounted rate and Smith is in arrears” to his attorneys, and that prosecutors are engaging in needless prosecution and have driven his client to financial ruin. “Government’s counsel has no idea what a defense costs in federal court because the United States uses taxpayer money to prosecute people like Smith. Perhaps government’s counsel should assess what it has spent prosecuting this frivolous case and determine if government’s counsel would have assets sufficient to defend himself before falsely asserting that Smith is not indigent. Smith is indigent because the United States made him so (despite the fact that the Coast Guard has already concluded that Smith acted appropriately),” Cattie wrote. Cattie also filed a supplemental motion citing a section of federal law requiring that funds be allocated “to individuals when necessary for experts even when that defendant has retained private counsel.” On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte also filed a motion asking Gomez to block defense attorneys from referencing a report by U.S. Coast Guard investigator Lt. Jacob Hopper, who found that Pontius’ death was an accident. Hopper is “not qualified to give an opinion as to what caused the death of David Pontius,” according to prosecutors, and “the Court should not permit defense counsel to argue or make reference to the Lt. Hopper’s report, knowing that its contents and conclusion is likely not admissible,” according to the motion. Cattie fired back, calling prosecutors’ arguments “patently ridiculous” and writing that “the United States is aware that it is pursuing a frivolous case against Richard Smith, so it is seeking to limit or preclude his defense in this case,” according to a response filed Friday afternoon. “Because the evidence is damning to the United States’ case, it seeks to preclude the defense from referring to the contents of Lt. Jacob Hopper’s investigative report or its conclusions. Fortunately, the law explicitly permits the admission of both Lt. Hopper’s factual findings and the conclusions in his report.” — Contact Suzanne Carlson at 340-714-9122 or email Facebook Twitter SMS Email Print Save Suzanne Carlson Follow Suzanne Carlson
  15. nolatom

    which side are you on?

    Trial is set for this month, I believe. Anyone going to sit in? Or a newspaper reporter we trust, such as in the Clear Lake / Dinius trial?