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

William E. Cassara, Military Law Attorney

Navy Discharge Review Board Gives Navy NCO Great Result

By William Cassara | January 11, 2021

The Navy Discharge Review Board recently amended our client’s DD-214 to allow him to reenlist and continue his 16 year career.

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CAAF

CAAF Argument- November 17, 2020

By William Cassara | November 29, 2020

On 17 November 2020 I was privileged to argue before the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (C.A.A.F.) for the 42nd time.

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UCMJ

CAAF Excludes Evidence From Faulty Search and Seizure

By William Cassara | November 19, 2020

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) released its first opinion of the October 2020 term. In United States v. White, the Court upheld a military judge’s ruling excluding evidence discovered during a search.

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