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Penland v. Mabus

August 7, 2009

SYNEEDA L. PENLAND, PETITIONER,
v.
RAYMOND E. MABUS, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, RESPONDENT.
SYNEEDA L. PENLAND, PETITIONER,
v.
RAYMOND E. MABUS, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No. 2 & 3

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PETITIONER'S MOTIONS FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the petitioner's motions for a preliminary injunction. The petitioner, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, commenced these consolidated actions protesting her discharge from the Navy following a general court-martial. The petitioner seeks a preliminary injunction requiring the Navy to restore her to active duty status pending the outcome of the litigation on the merits. Because the petitioner has demonstrated neither a likelihood of success on the merits nor irreparable harm absent interim injunctive relief, the court denies the petitioner's motions.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In May 2008, the petitioner was convicted in a general court-martial of four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ("UCMJ"): failure to obey a lawful order, making a false official statement, conduct unbecoming an officer and adultery. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 1.*fn1 Specifically, the petitioner was convicted of having a sexual relationship with a married subordinate officer, of harassing the subordinate officer's spouse (an active duty enlisted sailor) and of lying about her conduct. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 1. The petitioner maintains that the prosecution constituted reprisal for complaints that she made against her superior officer regarding financial improprieties within her command. Petr's Mot. at 2. As a result of her conviction, the petitioner was sentenced to serve sixty days in confinement and was fined $9,000. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 2. The petitioner ultimately served forty-five days in confinement and was released. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2.

The petitioner appealed her conviction to the General Courts-Martial Convening Authority ("GMCA"), citing numerous alleged errors that marred the court-martial proceedings, including unlawful command influence, ineffective assistance of counsel and various procedural and evidentiary errors. Id.; Resp.'s Opp'n at 3. The GMCA declined to reverse the petitioner's conviction. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 4. The matter was then referred to the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy ("JAG"), which investigated the petitioner's allegations and upheld the conviction in February 2009. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2-3; Resp.'s Opp'n at 4.

Following the court-martial conviction, the Navy ordered the petitioner to show cause before a three-member board of inquiry ("BOI") why she should not be separated from the Navy because of her conviction and allegedly substandard performance. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 2. The BOI concluded that the petitioner should be separated from the Navy. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 2. On June 29, 2009, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs signed the petitioner's discharge order, Resp.'s Opp'n at 2, and the petitioner's separation from the Navy was scheduled to take effect on July 31, 2009, Petr's Mot. at 1.

On July 29, 2009, the petitioner commenced these actions. In Civil Action No. 09-1417, the petitioner has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, alleging that the petitioner's separation violated Navy regulations governing the discharge of servicemen requiring medical attention.*fn2

See generally Petr's Mandamus Pet. The petitioner requests that the court "enter a Writ of Mandamus ordering Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus, Jr. to overturn his earlier decision . . . that petitioner be separated from active duty . . . on July 31, 2009." Id. at 9.

In Civil Action No. 09-1418, the petitioner has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, citing various procedural and substantive errors that occurred during her court martial proceedings.*fn3 See generally Petr's Habeas Pet. The petitioner "moves this Court to grant her petition for Habeas Corpus relief by dismissing all four of her criminal convictions, overturning the verdict of the administrative separation board, and ordering [Secretary Mabus] to retain [her] on active duty." Id. at 29.

On the same day she filed these petitions, the petitioner filed motions in both actions for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. See generally Petr's Mot.; Petr's 1418 Mot. The court set an expedited briefing schedule and, on July 30, 2009, denied the petitioner's requests for a temporary restraining order. See Minute Order (July ...


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