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Court-Martial (Part 2)

"The [OSI][NCIS][CID] did a profoundly inadequate investigation" . . . Is part of my argument in a double rape case.

It is not unusual that by the time the defense is aware of and able to investigate a case, the evidence is lost or destroyed and memories fade.However, for this case and client, there were two important pieces that were preserved: a cup and a pretext phone call.

Yes, in this case, a pretext phone call helped the client.That's because he admitted to having sex, but denied, in some detail, that it was non-consensual. So he was not lying to the members when he told them what happened from the witness stand -- the pretext phone call was corroborative support.The "cup" was a cup one of the complaining witnesses claimed the client had served her alcohol in, and which the prosecution argued might have been drugged.Interestingly, even though they had it, the prosecution never produced the cup and kept arguing it was a plastic Solo cup.Actually, the cup in the evidence locker was a smaller black teacup.Happily, USACIL tested the cup and found no evidence of drugs.So, despite a biased and profoundly inadequate investigation, the client was found not guilty of rape of two different complaining witnesses.

A Happier Ending Than Expected

E-6 Client is alleged to go AWOL for about three years, and he is paid during this time.At the Article 32, UCMJ, investigation he is charged with a three-year AWOL (not desertion) and stealing $140,000.00+ in pay.At the Article 32, we show that he began his absence six months later than alleged.Yes, the unit had him unaccounted for during that time, even though he was present for duty.

At trial, we have charges dismissed (without prejudice) for a speedy trial violation.So, we start again, and this time the client is ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation. As is typical, the R.C.M. 706 is done quickly and less than thoroughly.So, in steps, the defense expert to find that client is currently and was paranoid-schizophrenic.We contest the charges in a judge-alone trial.After the prosecution presents its evidence the military judge dismisses the AWOL charge, and we present an affirmative defense of lack of mental responsibility.Result:Guilty of theft of $112,000.00 in pay.Sentence, RIR to E-1, Bad Conduct Discharge, a fine of $11,330.00 (with up to a year confinement if the fine is not paid).

Why do I Tell You That Story?

Like all lawyers, I have many successes to brag about.But not all cases can be an outright full acquittal.Some cases require damage control, perhaps because there are a solid confession and some corroborating evidence.So, unlike almost all lawyers you will find in this field I have given you an example of how a seemingly losing case can be "improved" to get a much better result than expected.This is an example of the practice I began many years ago of litigate-to-mitigate.No two cases are the same, your case will be different.

Some Wavetops

-- Board finds no abusive sexual contact during a board of inquiry for an O-5.

-- E-5 accused of physical assault on his twin babies. After Article 32, UCMJ, investigation, the convening authority approved an administrative discharge in lieu of court-martial.

--Field grade officer client was directed to show cause for retention based on GOMR for alleged TCS travel fraud - unanimous vote for Retention.

--In a recent court-martial case the client was placed in pretrial confinement for espionage, threatening the President, threatening the local Sherriff, fake purple heart/combat action ribbon/combat commendation medal, fake jump wings, fake EWX pin, lying about his deployment history, and lying to get VA medical benefits. Ultimately charges were referred to trial, except the espionage. We were able to get some charges dismissed during pretrial litigation and get a substantial number of extra confinement credit for errors in the PTC process and discovery violations. After a fully contested trial client was found not guilty of all charges except some related to the false awards and lying to hospital officials about his awards. More credit was received because of further PTC errors.

The lesson here -- don't confess. It is likely that the conviction was based on a confession sufficiently corroborated by forensic evidence of faking documents on a personal computer.

--Executive Officer, USS IOWA (BB61) during the investigation after the turret explosion.

--0-8 initially investigated for very serious sexual assault offenses. Received Secretarial punitive letter, 30 days arrest in quarters, and later was retired at a reduced rank.

--0-7 investigated for Joint Ethics Regulation issues.

--0-6 commanding officer charged with a negligent grounding of a vessel.

--Commodore charged with negligence resulting in death and injuries during a Close-In-Weapons System exercise.

Represented/advised several Navy personnel who were Anthrax refusers.

--Army O - 3 - Gen. Off. Article 15. Charge dismissed at hearing.

--Army Nat'l Guard E - 8 - Gen. Off. Article 15. Charge dismissed at hearing.

--Navy O-3E found guilty at NJP of DWI. Then processed for administrative separation based on misconduct. In this case, we did what neither the command nor the military defense counsel had done. We consulted with an expert. Based on that expert's review we were able to show that the BAC reported as 0.145 should have been reported as 0.0145. Based on that "new" evidence, the Board found NO misconduct, and the LT was returned to duty.

Navy O-6, suspected of communicating threats, email stalking, and orders violations. Non-punitive letter of reprimand, and retirement in grade.

USMC O-5 ordered to appear before a retirement grade determination board based on allegations of spouse abuse. Allowed to retire in his current grade.

United States v. O-6. The case began as a serious sexual assault allegation. Resolved as an Article 15 for conduct unbecoming.

United States v. E-4. Accused of sexual assault on two different complaining witnesses and an assault on a third. Resolved through administrative separation in lieu of trial.

United States v. E-5. Recruiter accused of falsifying recruiting documents. Charges referred to Special Court-Martial. Resolved with written counseling and early retirement.

U.S. servicemen arrested for public indecency; client makes a formal apology (An apology is considered a virtue in Japan. Apologies show that a person takes responsibility and avoids blaming others. When one apologizes and shows one's remorse, the Japanese are more willing to forgive); Japanese Prosecution suspended for sailor accused of nudity in the cafe (and jurisdiction ceded to the U.S. under the SOFA). Case disposed of at Captain's Mast (Article. 15), followed by administrative separation.

United States v. Army E-3. Accused of raping spouse on four occasions, twice with a weapon; raping a girlfriend twice; multiple assaults, aggravated assaults, and threats against a spouse; multiple assaults and weapon-related threats against a second girlfriend; obstruction of justice. Found guilty of several assaults and threats on spouse and the second girlfriend, not guilty of all rapes, and most of the assaults. Sentenced to 18 months confinement and a bad conduct discharge.

United States v. Army E-4: Accused of assaulting a female Soldier and accused of sexually assaulting another female Soldier. After a contested judge along trial - found not guilty of the charges.

United States v. Marine E-5: Client accused of attempting to steal a total of $2400.00 from his roommate's bank account, misuse of a government travel card while PCSing, false official statements, and wire fraud. After a contested trial found guilty of attempted theft and false official statement, not guilty to misuse of GTCC and wire fraud. The prosecution argued for 18 months confinement, sentenced to six.

United States v. Air Force E-3: Client accused of failing to go to daily formation for about five months, failing to check out and PCS, failing a check-out appointment, a false official statement about a PT test, and dereliction in not PCSing. Basically, the allegations surround, according to the prosecution, client hiding out on this training base for five months because he didn't want to transfer to a line unit. After a contested trial convicted of "diverse" failures to go and false official statement, not guilty to the remainder. The military judge sentenced to four months confinement. However, the judge also granted 91 days credit for unlawful pretrial punishment in violation of Article 13, UCMJ. By the way, this case is one of several examples I have of why it is not good or useful to seek the assistance of the Congressman.

United States v. Army E-1. Client one of 13 accused of mutiny, kidnapping, multiple assaults, and property damage at the Maximum SHU, USDB, Leavenworth. The prosecution took the position that he started the mutiny and was a ringleader. Plead not guilty to all charges. Found not guilty of kidnapping and an assault. Sentenced to five years confinement. Military judge gave nine months Article 13 credit. In addition, the judge took into account other practices post-mutiny that were not Article 13, but was "almost" UCI, and gave two years confinement less than he would of. Another inmate who helped start the mutiny and assaults plead guilty to all charges. He was sentenced to 15 years confinement, which was reduced to eight years with a PTA.

United States v. Army E-5 (update). The client initially accused of rape and sexual assaults on a military spouse and an indecent act on a Soldier. After Article 32, and shortly before trial the complaining witnesses to the rape came forward to "tell the truth," and confessed they'd lied - there was no rape. Summary court-martial on the unrelated indecent act (sentenced to 15 days restriction). Aspects of this case and another case of mine (Walton) are reported here and here.

United States v. Army E-7. Initially convicted of BAH fraud in excess of $132K and associated charges; sentenced to a BCD and six months confinement. New trial ordered by the appeals court based on newly discovered evidence. At new trial convicted of attempted fraud in excess of $500.00; sentenced to RIR to E-6, $1000.00 forfeiture per month for two months.

United States v. Velez. This case required extensive assistance from a forensic crime scene perspective as well as a forensic psychologist and a forensic psychiatrist. The R.C.M. 706 board found a "brief psychotic episode" but not major. The defense experts found a major mental defect. However, neither rose to the level of an affirmative defense of insanity on the charges to which Velez plead guilty to. The prosecution dismissed a premeditated murder charge. In this case, the defense had made a PTA offer of 20 years in February 2010, and an offer of 25 years in June of 2010 - both of which were rejected. The prosecution came to the defense in early 2011 with a request for an offer of 28 years.

United States v. Air Force E-5: Rape. In this case, we were able to mount an aggressive defense at the Article 32, UCMJ, hearing. Subsequently, all charges were dismissed.

Client Reviews
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Many years after retiring from the USN, I suddenly found myself in a very unwelcome legal matter with the Navy. It was a total shock and I was very concerned as to the impact this would have on me and my family. Philip was so helpful, truly a calming force, and his legal help was invaluable to me, I am so thankful that I availed myself of his services! Rob
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