How difficult is it to get a federal court to overturn a court-martial conviction

I have discussed before how very difficult it is for an appellant to get a federal court to review and overturn a court-martial conviction.

Here is Randolph v. United States, a federal circuit case reviewing an attempt to get relief via the Court of Federal Claims.

The United States Department of the Navy (Navy) dishonorably discharged Jerome Randolph, the pro se appellant, after a court-martial convicted him for sexual assault and falsifying a statement about that assault. After this discharge, Mr. Randolph repeatedly sought expungement of his court-martial conviction, as well as an award of back pay and an upgraded discharge status, before the Board for Correction of Naval Records (Board). The Board denied him any relief. He ultimately filed suit against the United States (government) in the United States Court of Federal Claims (Claims Court) seeking the same relief he sought from the Board, as well as claiming relief from defamation. The Claims Court concluded that, in light of his court-martial conviction, the Board reasonably refused to award him back pay and upgrade his discharge status. The Claims Court also held that it had no jurisdiction to expunge his court-martial conviction or to proceed with his defamation claim. Even after we broadly construe Mr. Randolph’s arguments on appeal, we affirm.

Later the court writes:

See Matias v. United States, 923 F.2d 821, 823 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (“We have long honored the rule that `judgments by courts-martial, although not subject to direct review by federal civil courts, may nevertheless be subject to narrow collateral attack in such courts on constitutional grounds’ when traditional Tucker Act jurisdiction is present.” (quoting Bowling v. United States, 713 F.2d 1558, 1560 (Fed. Cir. 1983))).


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