Personal Injury or Death Caused by Military Medical Malpractice
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), retired service members and military dependents who have been injured by medical malpractice or negligence…
One area that has seen a significant increase in lately is the area of financial crimes. Many of these involve mobilized reservists who are unaware of what benefits they are entitled to and who…
Under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ,) if a person on active duty with the U.S. military is suspected of committing a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, they have the following r…
There are two types of searches in the military, those based on probable cause, and what are called “inspections.” This article will concentrate on what are called probable cause searches. If investigators believe they have pr…
Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice provides that before charges may be referred to a General Court-Martial, the charges must be “investigated” at an Article 32 investigation. This is not an investigation as you…
If a service member has been convicted at court-martial, his case can be appealed. In many cases, the appeal is automatic. Spotting errors which occurred at the trial level is crucial to a successful appeal. Mr. Cassara has successfully represented a number of inmates on appeal. He has experience before all service courts of appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the United States Supreme Court.
The first appeal is to the service court of appeals. Whether it is the Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals, Mr. Cassara has experience with extremely technical and complicated appeals.
Mr. Cassara has represented numerous clients in all phases of the appellate process, frequently obtaining extremely favorable results. He has represented members of all military services, both on appeal and through federal litigation. He has a significant track record, and has been asked to teach classes to military appellate lawyers.
When a service member is convicted at court-martial, they are provided a free military lawyer. These lawyers are often young, and frequently overworked. Mr. Cassara has worked with military lawyers of all services. He has succeeded in getting a number of significant court-martial convictions reversed.
Conviction at Courts-Martial is not the end of the process.
A large portion of my practice is representing military members who have been convicted at court-martial. The rules governing court-martial appeals are different for every service and complicated. If you or a loved one has been convicted at court-martial, you need an experienced court-martial appeals lawyer to assist you.
Probably the most frequent call I get is from a family member whose loved one has just been convicted at court-martial. They are, of course, heartbroken, and want to know what they can do. What follows is a summary of the court-martial appeals process.
Sentence of one year or more confinement or a punitive discharge.
Every military service (Army, Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps, Coast Guard) has what is known as a Court of Criminal Appeals. These courts (except the Coast Guard) are made up of active duty military judges who sit in “panels” of three, and whose sole reason for being is to hear appeals of courts-martial from their particular service, where the sentence includes confinement of one year or more, or a punitive (Dishonorable, Bad Conduct, Dismissal) as part of the punishment. In these cases, the service member has what is known as an “appeal of right.” In other words, regardless of whether the service member pleaded guilty or not guilty, if his/her sentence includes confinement for one year or more and/or a punitive discharge, their case will automatically be heard by that service’s Court of Criminal Appeals.
Upon conviction and a qualifying sentence, the court-reporter produces what is known as the Record of Trial, which is a verbatim transcript of the court-martial, as well as all “allied papers” which included any investigation, motions filed by either party, rulings of the court, etc. That Record of Trial is then served upon the accused and his/her defense counsel, who has 10 days to file a request for clemency pursuant to Rule for Courts-Martial 1105. This is commonly known as a clemency request, and the ten day period can be extended for up to 30 days total. Once the commander (known as the “Convening Authority”) signs off on the case (what is known as “final action”) the Record of Trial is then forwarded to the Army/Air Force/Navy-Marine Corps/Coast Guard) Court of Criminal Appeals. The service member is then provided a military attorney from that service’s Defense Appellate Division and a lawyer is also appointed to represent the government. In addition, the service member has the absolute right to retain a civilian court-martial appeals lawyer, at no expense to the government.
Your lawyer will review the Record of Trial, and file a brief with the Court of Criminal Appeals, outlining any errors that occurred at trial that may have denied you a fair trial. They will then file a brief with the Court. The government lawyers will then file a brief in response. Your lawyer can then file a reply brief, ask for “oral argument” before the Court, or rest on the brief they already filed.
The above process is, of course, just a brief summary of what happens. In reality, it is much more complicated. You need an attorney who is experienced in court-martial appeals. I have represented hundreds of service members on appeal of their court-martial convictions.
Sentence of less than a year confinement and no punitive discharge.
If the accused service member does not receive a year confinement or a punitive discharge, then their case will be reviewed by the Office of the Judge Advocate General of their particular service. Unlike the above scenario, they will not be appointed a military lawyer to represent them, although they can retain civilian counsel. If they do not retain civilian counsel, their case will be reviewed for errors by a lawyer in the Office of the Judge Advocate General, who will determine whether there were any errors at trial that prejudiced the accused.
If you decide to hire a civilian court-martial appeals lawyer in this scenario, you need to act quickly. The rules governing this process are very different then the rules above, and time is short. For more information read Why You Need a Civilian Military Attorney.
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
If a service member has appealed their court-martial conviction to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and lost, they can appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (C.A.A.F.) C.A.A.F. is a five member court consisting of civilian judges who hear court-martial appeals from all services. Unlike the Courts of Criminal Appeals, an appeal to C.A.A.F. is not an appeal “of right.” In other words, C.A.A.F. does not have to hear your case. As such, the first step is to file a brief with C.A.A.F. requesting that they review your case and, if they agree, a second brief is filed and your attorney then appears before the Court for “oral argument.”
I have appeared before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals and the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. I have appeared numerous times before the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and practiced in the U.S. Supreme Court, Court of Federal Claims and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In other words, I have represented members of all services on appeal of court-martial convictions. If you go to my courts-martial appeals recent accomplishments, you will see that I have successfully handled numerous court-martial appeals, and succeeded in getting wrongly convicted service members out of prison and having their convictions overturned.
If you have been convicted at court-martial, you need an attorney who has experience in court-martial appeals. I have extensive experience in court-martial appeals, and have handled appeals of all types of courts-martial. I have taught military and appellate law at the law school level, and am well versed in all current trends in court-martial appeals. I have provided “Officer rofessional Development” courses to appellate lawyers. I taught military law at the University of Baltimore and University of South Carolina schools of law. I also attend annual military law training at various courses around the country. I have taught trial tactics and appellate law at the law school level, as well as military courses at the undergraduate level. I have attended training on sexual assault, drug cases, homicide and numerous others. I am more experienced then the prosecutor, your defense counsel or any of their investigators. I have cross examined numerous alleged sexual assault victims, expert witnesses and anything else the government will throw at you.
If you or a loved one has been convicted at court-martial, call me for a free initial consultation. I have the experience and the knowledge to assist.