How does the appellate process work?

Your appellate lawyer, whether it be an active duty JAG or a civilian attorney, is responsible for preparing a "brief" or written pleading, to present to the Court of Criminal Appeals. This is done by carefully reading the record of trial, or transcript, and identifying legal issues that may result in relief for the client. These legal issues can relate to the sufficiency of the evidence, legal errors committed by the military judge or defense counsel, or other grounds.

Once these issues are identified, your attorney will prepare a brief. The government then has attorneys who will prepare a brief opposing your brief. Both sides then have the opportunity to present oral argument to the Court of Criminal Appeals and/or provide additional material to the court. An attorney with experience in court-martial appeals can best advise you as to the legal issues that may be raised in your case.

If the Court of Criminal Appeals "affirms" or sustains your conviction in whole or in part, then the case can be appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov. This court consists of 5 civilian judges who only hear appeals of court-martial convictions. Unlike the Courts of Criminal Appeals, this is not an automatic appeal, and your lawyer has to file a written petition requesting that the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces hear the case. Again, an attorney with experience in court-martial appeals can best advise you as to the legal issues that may be raised in your case.

Review by the Judge Advocate General

As noted above, if the sentence does not include confinement for more than one year, a punitive discharge or death, the appeal is then processed by the Judge Advocate General for your service. You have two years from the date the convening authority takes final action on your case to file an appeal with the Judge Advocate General. Great care should be taken in researching and drafting this appeal. An attorney with experience in court-martial appeals can best advise you as to the legal issues that may be raised in your case, and how to file such an appeal.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

Recent Accomplishments

Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals Finds That Government Did Not Prove Sexual Assault Offenses Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

By William Cassara | June 25, 2020

In 2018, the Marine Corps tried Cpl Lewis on several sexual assault charges. The panel convicted him of attempted sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, and sexual assault. The Government charged that these offenses occurred when the alleged victim, Cpl Alpha, was incapable of consenting due to impairment by alcohol. The […]

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By William Cassara | June 15, 2020

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) recently decided the case of United States v. Henry. The case concerns the Government’s appeal of a military judge’s decision not to allow certain statements made by the alleged victim and her son at trial. Hearsay Rules of evidence generally do not allow […]

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Great result for Army CW3 who received a GOMOR

By William Cassara | June 5, 2020

We represented an Army CW3 who received a GOMOR for allegedly failing to show up for work during COVID 19 and achieved a great result for our client.

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