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Mishap Investigation Responsibilities - 14167_58
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Testimonial Immunity
The  Manual  of  the  Judge  Advocate  General,  JAG Instruction   5800.7C,   governs   the   JAG   Manual investigation.  In  a  JAG  Manual  investigation,  however, the  reluctance  of  witnesses  to  divulge  information  for fear of being punished might lead to the loss of valuable safety  information.  The  sole  purpose  of  the  safety investigation  is  mishap  prevention,  not  the  deter- mination of accountability. That is why we invoke the concept  of  privileged  information  for  afloat  and  aviation investigations. Individuals may be reluctant to reveal information pertinent  to  a  mishap  because  they  believe  certain  uses of the information could be embarrassing or detrimental to  themselves,  their  fellow  service  members,  their command, their employer, or others. They may also elect  to  withhold  information  by  exercising  their constitutional  right  to  avoid  self-incrimination. Individual  members  of  the  armed  forces  must be assured that they may confide in others for the mutual benefit of fellow service members without incurring personal jeopardy in the process. Witnesses do not provide statements to mishap investigation boards under oath, and requiring them to do so is prohibited. Mishap investigators  must  advise  witnesses,  in  writing,  of  the purpose for which they are providing a statement and of the  limited  use  to  be  made  of  the  statement.  The witnesses’  statements  are  not  limited  to  matters  they could testify about in court. They may be invited to express opinions and speculate on possible causes of the mishap. Mishap  investigation  boards  who  believe  their deliberations, opinions, and recommendations could be used for other than safety purposes might be reluctant to  include  vital  safety  information  in  their  reports. Likewise, endorsers of MIRs may be reluctant to include vital safety information in their MIR endorsements (MIREs). Should the Department of the Navy (DON) use privileged information for any purpose other than safety, it would lose the trust of its people in future assurances of  privilege.  To  protect  privileged  information  against unauthorized disclosure, the Navy must safeguard the entire  reporting  cycle.  That  cycle  includes  assurances  of confidentiality  given;  privileged  information  obtained, developed,  and  reported;  privileged  information protected  against  misuse  or  public  disclosure;  and  trust in assurances of privilege and confidentiality. If any segment of the cycle fails, we may lose vital safety information. Privileged information will not be used as follows: In  making  any  determination  affecting  the interest of an individual involved in a mishap or making  a  statement  under  assurances  of confidentiality As  evidence,  or  to  obtain  evidence,  in  deter- mining misconduct or line-of-duty status As evidence, or to obtain evidence, to determine the   responsibility   of   personnel   from   the standpoint  of  discipline As  evidence,  or  to  obtain  evidence,  to  assert affirmative claims on behalf of the government As evidence, or to obtain evidence, to determine the  liability  of  the  government  for  property damage caused by a mishap As  evidence,  or  to  obtain  evidence,  before administrative  bodies,  such  as  officer  evaluation boards   (USN)   or   field   performance   boards (USMC) As evidence, or to obtain evidence, in any other administrative   or   judicial   proceeding(s)   to determine  misconduct  or  line-of-duty  status,  or governmental  liability Not all evidence collected by a mishap investigation board  is  privileged.  Logs,  most  photographs,  physical evidence,  and  copies  of  instructions  are  commonly available to anyone with no promises of restricted use. The  source  of  physical  evidence  is  privileged  if  divulged under  the  promise  of  confidentiality.  Other  privileged items  include  the  following: Witness  statements  to  an  afloat  or  aviation mishap  investigation  board. Preplanned photographs staged or posed by the afloat or aviation mishap investigation board to illustrate a specific condition or situation. All captions  or  markings  placed  on  photographs suggesting  the  mishap  board’s  deliberative process  are  also  privileged.  Photographs  of human injuries/remains that are not staged are not  privileged,  but  may  be  exempt  from disclosure under exemption b(6) of the Freedom of Information Act. Notes  made  on  the  board’s  deliberations, including   personal   notes   made   by   board members. The concept of privilege has been successfully used by the Navy aviation community and U.S. Air Force to gather  vital  mishap  information.  This  concept  was 4-3

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