Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/617100
37 Winter 2015–2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings briefs. Integrating attorneys into the process demonstrates the Coast Guard's commitment to ensuring a mariner's due process in suspension and revocation proceedings. Complaints For example, a Coast Guard attorney reviews each com- plaint before it is served upon the mariner. S&R NCOE personnel review the overwhelming majority of new com- plaints for legal suffciency, factual support, and nationwide consistency. This provides two advantages: • First, the S&R NCOE personnel ensure that complaint allegations have suffcient factual and legal basis. This protects mariners from the financial and emotional toll of an unjustifed suspension and revocation pros- ecution. It also reduces the Coast Guard's exposure to potential Equal Access to Justice Act claims. 3 • Second, this centralized review process ensures nation- wide consistency in charging decisions as well as in the length of suspension or revocation requested. Prior to the policy, mariners in different locations who com- mitted similar offenses could face dissimilar potential consequences. The S&R NCOE works to maintain con- sistency on a nationwide level, leading to greater fair- ness in S&R actions. Attorneys also play a vital role in negotiating and crafting settlement agreements, as the involved attorney reviews, edits, and approves each agreement. This ensures that set- tlement agreements are legally sound and fair to mariners. The Results Coast Guard attorney involvement in S&R cases also ben- efts the public, as credentialed mariners hold positions of great responsibility, including transporting essential, often hazardous cargo on the nation's waterways. In cases where mariners use drugs, conduct negligent operations, or com- mit other violations, the Coast Guard must zealously pur- sue suspension or revocation of the mariner's credential to remove them from that position of responsibility and protect the public health and well-being. By combining the Coast Guard attorney's legal acumen and advocacy experience with the IO's maritime investigations and regulatory enforcement experience, the Coast Guard creates teams that provide greater consistency and fairness to the mariner and maritime community, ultimately protect- ing the public. About the authors: Mr. Brian C. Crockett is an attorney at the Suspension and Revocation National Center of Expertise. LCDR Damian Yemma is the attorney at the Investigations National Center of Expertise. He has served in the Coast Guard for 14 years, and his prior assignments include USCGC Sanibel, Sector Guam, District Seven preven- tion staff, and the District Eight legal staff. He is a graduate of the University of Florida (B.S. in environmental science, 2000) as well as the College of William & Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law (J.D., 2010). Endnotes: 1. See 46 USC §7703 and 46 CFR Part 5. 2. See 33 CFR Part 20 for the rules of practice, procedure, and evidence for formal administrative proceedings of the Coast Guard. 3. These claims may entitle a mariner to the recovery of attorney's fees or related costs in a case where a Coast Guard complaint is dismissed, not substantially justifed, and where the mariner meets other qualifying factors. See 49 CFR Part 6 for Equal Access to Justice Act procedures and information. Zerbor / iStock / Thinkstock