Commander Burnham's Sentencing
I'm not sure why Burnham pled guilty, but why didn't they take her later actions into account? The Captain was clearly ok with Burnham after she got out of the brig. They went over to the Klingon flagship together to capture the leader. I imagine that there was a tacit pardon in what the Captain was doing. I wish she had made it back, she would surely clear Burnham's name. Any lawyer would have told her to plead "not guilty." I wonder who her lawyer was, did she dismiss them? Why did she plead guilty? Maybe she made a plea bargain for a lesser sentence, but the only thing that it's lesser than life in prison is the death penalty, and we almost never give that.
Earth hasn't used the death penalty is a very long time, but they did historically (VERY historically) use it in cases of mutiny.1 But it's pretty commonly seen as "cruel and unusual punishment." The Vulcans have also administered the death penalty for treason, which I guess applies here.2 Maybe they wanted to get the death penalty for her, but I thought we (as a society) were passed that. I mean, the Klingons kill convicts pretty liberally,3 but that is not the kind of example we need to be following (after all, we're at war to protect our society from this kind of thing). Right? What are we at war for? Klingon aggression seems to easy an excuse. I wonder...
I suppose that considering Cmdr. Burnham's quasi-Vulcan background, the significant sway the Vulcans have over Starfleet, and the fact that everyone seems to think that she started the war, they wanted to make an example and give her the death penalty. But I doubt that they'd accept a plea bargain, if that were the case. I don't really know, I was still assigned to the Shenzhou at the time.
Either way, the sentencing commission that gave Cmdr. Burnham life in prison, should have taken all of her background and actions into account. I still think that she was right, too bad we didn't give the Klingons a "Vulcan Hello." Besides, as my new Captain like to tell us, "context is for kings."
1 See Logs of Captain Archer, NX-01 Enterprise "Judgment" and "Affliction."↩
2 An ancient example can be found in 10 U.S. Code § 894.↩
3 See Logs of Captain Archer, NX-01 Enterprise "Kir'Shara."↩