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  • Writer's pictureJohn Maher

Sergeant Imprisoned for Others' Failure to Inspect Parachutes

Sergeant sent to prison when two junior Soldiers's pencil-packed reserve parachutes, that is, certifying that they were physically inspected and found airworthy, when they were not.

Jared Herrmann

Instead, the junior Soldiers completed forms certifying that the reserve parachutes were inspected. Neither Soldier was court-martialed, nor were any of SGT Herrmann's superiors.

The case went to the US Supreme Court and is now in Arizona Federal Court under Habeas Corpus challenging the constitutionality of Herrmann's conviction and sentence for "reckless endangerment."

The US Court of Appeals held that a 1:500 chance of causing death or grievous bodily injury was not sufficient to satisfy the term "likely" as in "likely to cause death or grievous bodily injury."

Herrmann introduced evidence that a main parachute will open 99.98% of the time, thus, a jumper will not even need to pull his reserve except in .02% of the time. Then, the reserve parachute would have to fail for it to be "likely" to cause death or grievous bodily injury.

The parachute statistics, drawn from US Army Field Manuals from data compiled over years of parachute jumps, show that a jumper's chances of injury or death, by the Army's own statistics, are far less than 1:500, which the US Court of Appeals found to be not enough to satisfy the term "likely." Accordingly, Herrmann's convictions and sentence are unlawful.

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