Are court-martial panels tougher than a civilian jury?
In my opinion, yes. First, a court-martial panel is not a panel of randomly selected military members. The commander, the same commander that sends an accused to a court-martial, hand selects the panel members. This can seem a little unfair to the servicemember being tried at the court-martial. Second, a court-martial panel can convict a servicemember with only two-thirds of the panel members voting guilty. In a civilian jury, a finding of guilty requires a unanimous vote. I suppose this could be viewed in a positive light too, however, because an accused can also be acquitted of a crime at a court-martial with only two-thirds of the vote. This positive spin does not even the score in my opinion. A military panel that is hand selected by the command that can find a servicemember guilty with only two-thirds of the vote is a tougher forum to face than a randomly selected civilian jury where a unanimous vote of guilty is required to convict. Given this, when you are facing a court-martial, you need to be represented by someone with experience. Don’t put your trial in the hands of just anyone. Call today. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.