In one of the scenes in Kaffee's apartment he is watching a baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles. The game is won at the end by the Orioles. This actual game took place on June 17, 1991, and was when the Orioles ended the Twins 15 game winning streak during that season, even though the movie was supposed to take place in September of 1992. Another game Kaffee watched on TV between the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres, where a home run tied the game at 10, occurred on May 23, 1991, a game San Diego eventually won 11-10 in 12 innings.
When Galloway confronts the drunk Danny about why he asked for the transfer order from Jessup, on the line where she mentions the Pentagon, what she is saying obviously does not match up with her lips.
When Col Jessup orders his clerk to get the White House on the phone the clerk responds with, "Yes, sir." In the Marine Corps the proper response for "order understood and will be carried out" is "Aye-aye, sir."
When Kaffee asks Dawson what a Code Red is, and Dawson replies "Sir?", Kaffee retorts with "Don't answer me like I just asked you to clean the latrine". Members of both the Navy and Marine Corps would refer to a restroom/bathroom as a "Head", not a "Latrine". Latrine is an Army term.
While meeting with defense attorneys in Guantanamo Bay, Colonel Jessup says "Speak softly and carry an armored tank division." It is highly unlikely that any marine would ever say such a thing, particularly one as gung ho as Jessup. An armored tank division is an army unit. Marine divisions are basically light infantry for maximum deployability. Colonel Jessup would hardly suggest an army formation as the quintessential element of national power. US Marines have armored battalions. It would have been more appropriate for Jessup to have said "Speak softly and carry an armored tank battalion".
Capt. Ross refers to Lt. Kendrick as a "a Lietuenant with four letters of commendation," which is a truly odd boast for a Marine Officer to make considering that a letter of commendation is not an award that is recognized for military officers by the Navy or Department of Defense. A better statement would have been to say, "a Lieutenant with four Commendation Medals," since the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal is something that Lt. Kendrick might actually have received, and would be in his service record. A lieutenant receiving four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals is very unlikely (unless he had some prior-enlisted time), but is much more realistic that four letters of commendation.
Kendrick is outranked by Ross but never addresses him as "Sir" during his testimony. While it's possible that his disdain for Kaffee would cause him to lose his military bearing on cross-examination, it's highly unlikely that he would fail to acknowledge Ross's rank.
When Kaffee is reading the inventory of Santiago's belongings during the trial, he refers to "three khaki shirts." Earlier in the film, when in Santiago's room, there are five khaki shirts hanging on the rod.
Danny shouldn't be asking Sam how to get Dawson a new lawyer because Danny is considered the best litigator in their office. If he really is the best he would already know how to get any of his clients a new lawyer in case one day he decides to drop his clients for any reason.
When Dawson and Downey first arrived in DC, they are escorted from the car to the building by enlisted men, two sergeants. When given instructions by the escorts, Dawson would've said "aye, aye sergeant" both times instead of "yes sir."
Colonel Jessup, a career Marine Corps officer refers to a firearm as a "gun." As anyone who is in the least familiar with United States Marine Corps will attest to, Marines will refer to a firearm as a "gun" perhaps once or twice and then never again.
Firearms are referred to as the general description such as "pistol" "revolver" or "rifle". Or they are specifically called by the civilian or military designations, such as an M9 (a Beretta 92), an M-16 or an M249. It would be so shocking if a Marine officer referred to a weapon in such a manner that it's likely he would be corrected by legal counsel for doing so.
Danny reiterates to Joanne and Sam the impact of their body language in the courtroom can imply to the prosecution and other court members the strength and confidence of their defense, but in several scenes Danny can be seen slumped in his chair and Sam can be seen hunched over the table.
When Joanna refuses Ross's plea bargain deal of six months to two years she should've known the judge wouldn't sentence Dawson and Downey any less than that. Six months to two years is more than fair for the charge of manslaughter.
When Sam is first asked to work with Danny on the case at first he refuses by saying he has a " stack of papers on his desk about a mile high", he later contradicts himself by saying Danny will have this case done in four days.
When Danny concludes his first meeting with Dawson and Downey in the interrogation room, he reminds them the governments is charging them with murder, they're being charged with manslaughter, not murder.
Jo should know it is highly unethical and unprofessional to lie to Downey by saying they'll let him go back to his platoon soon. Furthermore if he should find out she lied to him, she can be disbarred.
In the interview room, LCpl. Dawson issues the order "Officer on deck, Ten Hut". The Navy and Marine Corps call to attention when an officer enters the room is simply to order, "Attention on Deck". He repeats a similar order at the end of the film.
Throughout the movie, Santiago is mentioned as being "transferred off the base (Guantanamo Bay)" It is never mentioned where he is being transferred to; i.e. what command, unit, installation, etc. Kaffee and Galloway should have questioned Jessep about this. As Judge Advocate General Corps lawyers investigating a murder of a U.S. Marine under his command, they would have a right to know this information.
Once Kaffee confirmed with Markinson that Jessep had flight records changed in the tower chief's log, Kaffee should have subpoenaed the tower chief to testify. This would have added another charge to Jessep's record, tampering with official records.
When Galloway is walking in the rain and Kaffee drives up to stop her, she keeps walking, ignoring him as he drives along and gets out of the car, until he says he's "going to put Jessep on the stand." The problem is, Galloway stops walking before Kaffee gets to his point. She clearly knows the line that's coming and "reacts" too soon.
Col. Jessup mockingly envies Lt. Kaffee for being able to have oral sex with a female superior officer (indicating Lt. Cdr. Galloway), saying that he himself, being a colonel, would have to wait until a woman is elected president. Technically, a woman promoted to brigadier general would suffice, and at the time the movie is set, there were several female general officers in the U.S. military, albeit none serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
When deciding to take the plea deal, Dawson asks Danny if they'll be dishonorably discharged which Danny replies "probably", as their lawyer Danny should know that anyone who commits a murder will be dishonorably discharged.
When Dawson refuses to accept the plea bargain agreement, Danny tells him his not guilty plea would have him end up at Leavenworth, Leavenworth Penitentiary is a federal prison for civilians not dishonorably discharged marines.
In his opening statement Danny says if you're given an order in the Washington Navy yard, it doesn't mean much more when compared to the outside world. This can be considered an insult to the navy, the same military branch he serves.
When the Marines begin their rifle twirling drill, they have their bayonets fixed to their rifles. Halfway through the drill, the bayonets are at their sides in sheaths affixed to their belts. Yet they are never seen removing the bayonets.
Kaffee leaves his office after his secretary tells him to say "hi" to Fidel Castro, and he and Galloway are talking outside as they walk to his car. He gets out his keys and unlocks the car door, but when he climbs inside the car and closes the door, the window is already rolled down.
When Lt. Kaffee and Lt. Weinberg go to question PFC Downey and LCpl Dawson there is a camera of some sort mounted on the wall in the corner (visible in the shot in which Kaffee is standing with his back toward the corner). In the next shot of the corner, when Weinberg is in the same position, the equipment has disappeared.
When they are examining the closet in Santiago's room, Kaffee runs his fingers across the camouflage uniforms in the close-up and they are moved out of place. The next shot shows Kaffee at the closet, but everything in the closet is perfect.
During the Court room scuffle when Col Jessup threatens to rip the eyes out of Kaffee's head with the MP's restraining him, Jessup's tie is slightly ruffled. However, after he turns around and picks up his hat, his tie is so far around his neck it is hardly visible.
McGaffey pulls into the parking lot at Markinson's hotel and it is more of a motel - rooms having outside entrances. When he goes to Markinson's room, it is clearly a hotel - rooms with inside entrances.
When Kaffee talked to Ross in the bar about Markinson and took his first drink of beer it was obvious, by the level of liquid in the bottle during the drink, the bottle was not full and was drank from previously.
When Kaffee, Galloway, and Weinberg, are at Kaffee's house and call it a day, Kaffee opens the door for Weinberg so he can leave. In the next shot the door is closed again and Weinberg himself has to open it.
When Captain Ross calls McGuire to the stand in the courts-martial, Ross is moving toward the central podium between the counsels' tables. When Ross is giving McGuire the oath, however, he hasn't moved toward the podium at all, but is still behind the table.
After Kaffee has entered a plea for the two marines, Weinberg and Galloway both turn and are facing him. But in the close-up we see Galloway facing forward with only her head turned toward him and then we see her turn again.
In the final court scene, when Jessup tells Kaffee to call him Colonel or sir before returning to the stand, the camera is on Kaffee's back showing him pouring a glass of water then lowering his arm. The next view is from the front of Kaffee and his arm is raised again pouring another glass of water.
At the end of the movie, when the two marines stand to hear the verdict, the long shot shows them to have about a foot difference in height. Move to close-up and they are a few inches different. The long shot once again shows the larger height difference.
After the Government has rested, Lt. Kaffee, Lt. Weinberg, and Lt. Cdr. Galloway are the last ones in the courtroom, and they are arguing. Lt. Kaffee tells everyone to take the night off, and then reaches around his body with his right hand to pick up his briefcase which was sitting behind him and to his left. The next shot, from the rear, shows Kaffee talking to Galloway. He raises his right hand and shows that it is empty. He then switches his briefcase, now in his left hand, to his right hand.
When everyone stands up to hear the verdict, the defense lawyers' table is clean and empty, and they are not holding anything in their hands. After Dawson gives the short speech about "we were supposed to fight for Willy", Kaffee and Weinberg are holding their briefcases on top of the table, which they did not have time to retrieve (unless they were ignoring Dawson while he was giving that speech).
When Galloway talks to Kaffee before his showdown with Col. Jessep, they both laugh after Kaffee says, "I think Jessep's gonna have his hands full today." However, less than a second later, Galloway speaks and is not laughing at all. The laughing is clearly Tom Cruise and Demi Moore cracking up during the take.
After the first day of testimony, the plot segues to Kaffee's apartment at night by showing a sunset over Washington. However, the shot angle - from the Iwo Jima Memorial looking towards the Washington Monument and the US Capitol - looks to the east and therefore is looking at a sunrise.
When Tom Cruise and Kevin Pollak first arrive at Guantanamo, Noah Wyle offers them camouflage jackets because he says they will be driving close to the fence patrolled by Cuban forces and would be sniper targets in their white uniforms. In reality, the passenger terminal at Guantanamo is over 5000 feet from the fence, and the road front between the passenger terminal and the ferry goes west, the opposite direction from the fence,
The doctor testifies that "lactic acidosis occurs when the body burns sugar instead of oxygen". The body always metabolizes sugar, but in the absence of oxygen, lactic acid builds up as a waste product and is toxic (=lactic acidosis).
A Judge Advocate has the same qualified immunity as any other attorney arguing a defense. The premise that he could be subject to Court Martial for Professional Misconduct if he accuses Jessop and Kendrick of a crime is preposterous. He could be prosecuted however for failing to do so if it was necessary in the defense of the accused and if he, in good faith, believes that they may be guilty of said crime.
There is no such thing as "conduct unbecoming a Marine" under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The closest thing to it is what is known as "Article 133" which could carry a dishonorable discharge as a possible punishment.
Pfc. Louden Downey when questioned by Capt. Jack Ross says that when the pick-up Pvt got to his post the vehicle, the Humvee, had a blow-out (flat tire) with no spare. This is impossible. The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or Humvee has a run-flat device, consisting of a large reinforced disc inside the tire that allows the vehicle to be driven without an inflated tire for an extended period of time. If the Humvee had gotten a flat tire, they just would have driven back and gotten a new tire.
Kaffee is a Lieutenant Junior Grade (O-2) after being in the Navy for nine months. A JAG officer who is a direct commissionee comes in the military as an O-2 and is promoted within six months. After nine months, Kaffee certainly would be a Lieutenant (O-3).
There are apparently three officers in Col Jessup's unit including Col Jessup, and no Non-Comissioned Officers above the rank of Corporal. In reality, a Marine Platoon Commander such as Kendrick would answer to a Company Commander (a Captain), who would in turn answer to a Battalion Commander (a Lieutenant Colonel), and the Battalion Commander would report to Col Jessup (equivalent to a Brigade Commander). Each officer would have an NCO counterpart of appropriate rank serving as his senior enlisted advisor. A Platoon Commander would be assisted by a Platoon Sergeant (a Staff Sergeant or Gunnery Sergeant), a Company Commander by a First Sergeant, and a Battalion Commander by a Sergeant Major. Col Jessup would also have a Sergeant Major who reports directly to him, who would be his senior advisor on all issues pertaining to the enlisted men in his unit. Kendrick's Company and Battalion Commander's are noticeably absent from the film as are any of the senior enlisted advisers who would certainly have had an interest in the welfare and discipline of the Marine who's death becomes the focus of the film.
When Lt Weinberg bring in the 2 USAF Airmen towards the end of Col Jessep's testimony with the intention of Col Jessep seeing them and influencing his testimony, this would not be allowed in a military court for this very reason. In a Court Martial proceeding, these 2 Airmen would have been kept in a chamber outside the courtroom until it was their time to testify.
Throughout the movie several characters refer to themselves and others by their full first middle and last names. This is unusual because the proper form of address in the Marine Corps is to use only rank and last name. In fact most Marines don't even know the first, much less the middle, names of other Marines, especially the officers. The way Kendrick refers to himself went out of style after the Civil War.
We see Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson shoot himself with a Beretta M9 which is a 9mm pistol but later in a courtroom scene Lt. Daniel Kaffee says that Markinson shot himself with a .45 caliber pistol.
When Daniel and Joanne investigate the crime scene, you can see the pillow on the bed is stained red with blood. However, we find out later in the movie that they were there 5 days after the crime had been committed. The blood would have turned brown by then.
The group depicting the Marine Silent Drill Platoon in the opening credits are shown wearing Class B Dress Blues. This is the standard, and most well-known Marine Corps dress uniform, featuring ribbons on the left chest, Marksmanship Badges, and blue trousers. While the Silent Drill Platoon, as Marines, would be authorized to wear this uniform, they only wear Class A Blue-White Dress uniforms when performing.
The most likely year of the trial is 1991. 6 September 1991 was indeed a Friday. 3 October was a Thursday, and 4 October was a Friday, all consistent with dialog and key scenes. But Judge Randolph then announces the court would reconvene on "Monday 19 October." In fact, 19 October 1991 was a Saturday. The correct reconvention date would have to be Monday 21 October, not 19 October. Either the incident and trial opening dates are therefore inconsistent with the reconvention date.
On several occasions, the assignment of LT(jg)Kaffee as defense counsel is said to have been ordered by "Division". In the US Navy a division is the lowest and smallest unit, usually consisting of four to twenty enlisted personnel (depending on the specialty of the division and the size of the command), one or two Chief Petty Officers (or Petty Officers First Class) and is under the charge of a Junior Officer of the rank Lieutenant or below.
When Kaffee asks Jessup if the first flight out is at 6 am, and is told yes, he then follows up by suggesting an earlier flight, at 11 pm, existed. 11 pm would be the day before, so either way the 6 am flight would still be the first one of the day.
When Dawson refuses to accept the plea bargain agreement, Danny tells him his not guilty plea would have him end up at Leavenworth. Leavenworth Penitentiary is a federal prison for civilians not dishonorably discharged marines.
But the United States Disciplinary Barracks (or USDB, popularly known as Leavenworth, or the DB) is a military correctional facility located on Fort Leavenworth, a United States Army post in Kansas. It is referred as Leavenworth or Ft Leavenworth because of this. This is what they're referring to in the movie.
It is one of three major prisons built on Fort Leavenworth property, the others being the federal United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, four miles to the south, and the military Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, which opened on 5 October 2010.
After Kaffee comes back to the house and admits he is drunk, he yells at Galloway, calling her "galacticly stupid." She then leaves the house. Moments later we see Kaffee driving after her in the rain, with Sam riding in the passenger seat. Even though Sam had one sip of a drink, he would not have let Kaffee drive if he was drunk.
In the airport scene at Guantanamo, when Cpl. Barnes arrives to pick up Naval officers Kaffe, Weinberg, and Galloway as they are getting off of the airplane, Barnes fails to don his cap (or cover, in military terminology), come to attention and salute the officers. Most military branches don't allow members to wear covers around aircraft as they tend to fly off heads and may damage aircraft propellers or engines. If anything, Barnes should just come to attention and acknowledge the officers and then wait for a "carry on" or "at ease."
When Ross and Kaffee first negotiate a plea bargain deal, Ross says if they plead guilty the prosecution will drop the conspiracy and conduct unbecoming charges, then they'll serve twenty years and they'll be released for good behavior in ten years. Kaffee replies that he wants twelve years, obviously 10 is less than 12 so why would Kaffee want his clients to serve a longer sentence? Clearly, however, he's asking for 12 instead of 20 and his clients would then presumably be released for good behavior in maybe six years - though neither the prosecution nor defense lawyers have any say in when a convicted person is released for good behavior, and these are only estimates for Kaffee's use in presenting to his clients.
When Kaffee is in his office getting ready to go to Cuba, a shot is used twice. Before we go in the office, a shot of the building is shown and various uniformed people are seen walking. In the far left you can make out Kaffee's car pulling away. After Kaffee and Galloway leave the office and walk to his car (which is now parked on the right), that outside shot is used again. Kaffey pulls away and drives off to the left. You will notice this is the same shot as used before, just timed differently.
The crime takes place in early September. A day or two later, scenes from Washington, DC are shown, with leaves in nearly full autumn color. The scenes were shot around late October, about six weeks later than the timeline of the movie.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
Lt. Col. Markinson commits suicide with a Beretta M92, 9mm pistol, albeit chrome-plated, a concession to his rank. The US Military has never issued chrome or nickel-plated sidearms to officers. In court later, Lt Kaffee describes the caliber as ".45". The Beretta 92 series is only chambered for 9mm rounds.
When Lt. Kaffee begins his court room questioning of Col. Jessup, he notes that the Jessup is wearing his "Class A dress uniform". However, he is actually wearing his Class A service uniform. His Class A dress uniform would be his dress blues (similar to the uniform Lt. Col. Markinson is wearing during his suicide).
At the end of the movie, when Dawson says "Ten Hut" and salutes, he does it without his cover (hat). While saluting indoors and uncovered is not correct for a Marine, he would likely have done it anyway to demonstrate respect for LT(jg) Kaffee after having disrespected him earlier. However, Marines NEVER use the phrase "ten hut" in place of the word "Attention". When acknowledging the presence of an officer, a Marine would ALWAYS as a matter of training, custom, and habit say "Attention on deck."
When Lt. Col. Markinson is dressing in his uniform prior to his suicide, he inserts the end of the belt into the belt loop without going under the left side of the buckle. In the mirror though, the belt is under the left side of the buckle.