This site is for the trial practitioner (the military lawyer) of military justice, and for the information of U.S. active duty, Guard, and reserve service-members, their spouses and their families. Our goal is to focus on trial practice issues in cases arising under the UCMJ and being tried at court martial. We hasten to add that nothing on this blog should be taken as specific legal advice for a specific client.

The very foundation of what we do depends on trust, and trust depends on the treatment of all Soldiers with dignity and respect by fellow Soldiers and leaders. Without this, our profession is placed in jeopardy, our readiness suffers, and our mission success is at risk.

The sentiment conveyed above is enduring; it epitomizes core Army values. In an age where electronic communication is commonplace, it is critical to ensure that dignity and respect is maintained offline and online. A harmful communication sent from behind a screen does not trivialize the behavior; the consequences of carrying out acts which flout Army values are the same regardless of the domain—cyber or face-to-face—in which those acts occur.

“It is relatively easy to hurt others when their suffering is not visible and when causal actions are physically and temporally remote from their effects.”This is a key reason why Army leaders need to understand how to manage online misconduct. To carry out their responsibilities, leaders need unambiguous and comprehensive regulatory tools at their disposal which they can apply consistently and confidently.

The Army TJAGSA Criminal Law Deskbook is now online.

The cover notes that the DB “reflects changes” to the MJA effective 1 January 2019. The .pdf file is bookmarked.

Interestingly, Part B of the Introduction has a justification for a separate military justice system. They say there is a need for speedy trial–a need not necessarily reflected in the speed of investigations and trials–ask anyone who does trials on a regular basis. Part C.2., reflects the commander-centric need for a military justice decision-making process.

The harmful effects of law enforcement tunnel vision do not end with wrongful convictions. Tunnel vision also undermines community trust in the police and damages an already fraught relationship.

In a sexual assault case, real victims are actually harmed when false allegations are buttressed by so-called “victim-centric” investigations. When false reports are “substantiated” others watching become cynical about sexual assault allegations in general. When people do not trust the system and the witnesses produced then it becomes likely they will apply a bias against sexual assault victims.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-0523-cooperating-witnesses-20190522-story.html?fbclid=IwAR1bK1SV2c8HBlZIFP1Nogdm7k_Y-ZRC5Nd1uKxClLhJ-G03f77FwAHN9Qo

Like it or not, consistent or not consistent with long-held notions of justice, a military member accused of a sexual assault is presumed guilty.

Sure command and others will say you are going to get a fair hearing and trial, but that’s not reality.

Over 100 Law Professors, Others Call on DOJ to Stop Junk-Science ‘Victim-Centered’ Methods

When a party objects to testimony or documents they should state “I object” and cite the evidence rule or principle and nothing else. You may be tempted, but don’t make a speaking objection.

United States v. Gurfein, NMCCA 2019, is an example of why speaking objections are improper and can cause problems. I have had trial cases where I’ve had to cut trial counsel off from making a speaking objection in front of members. I have appellate cases where the counsel and military judge engaged in a discussion of the objection (sometimes lengthy and detailed) in front of the members–this is improper.

Defense counsel–shut trial counsel down when they make speaking objections in front of members. I know judges want to save time and not inconvenience members, but you have a client who may be adversely affected by what they hear.

United States v. Vick, ACCA 2019.

Prosecutors and convening authorities require an accused to plead guilty to charges which the accused is not provident, but it’s a take it or leave it deal and the accused dutifully complies, only to have the whole process go awry.

Is Vick such a case of unreasonable requirements from the prosecution.

Appellant argues his trial defense team was ineffective. Appellant’s argument involves mistaken identity, fraternal betrayal, technological mystery, and a healthy dose of bad luck. The argument is ambitious and engaging, it is also wrong.

United States v. Carter, ACCA 2019.