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Article 32 hearing in Naval Academy rape case causes some to once again question the military justice system …

Recently, the Article 32 investigation was conducted in the Naval Academy case where one female midshipman has accused three former Naval Academy football players of rape.  Apparently, the accuser was cross-examined for a long time during this hearing and was asked a lot of difficult questions.  Following this Article 32 hearing, she and her counsel filed suit against the Naval Academy and its superintendent in federal court arguing that the superintendent should remove himself from the case.  If the superintendent is not removed from the case, he will be the one to review the Article 32 investigation and determine whether charges should go forward against the former football players. Mr. Gene Fidell, former President of the National Institute of Military Justice and current Lecturer at Yale, stated that he believed it would be a conflict of interest to have the superintendent determine whether charges should go forward against the football players since the Naval Academy is an “institution of higher learning that has long prided itself on its football prowess.”  Mr. Fidell seems to be implying that Article 32 investigation should be eliminated from the military justice system.  Some authors of news articles are stating that it should be replaced by the civilian grand jury system.  I have the utmost respect for Mr. Fidell, however, I strongly disagree with the proposal that the Article 32 investigation be removed from the military justice system.  The Article 32 investigation is a hearing in which an impartial military officer listens to the evidence that the government presents against the accused and any evidence that the accused wants to produce.  That military officer then recommends to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority (GCMCA) what specifically he believes should happen with the case.  In my opinion, this hearing is beneficial to the Government, Defense, accusers and accused.  It prevents a rogue prosecutor or commander from just bringing baseless charges against an accused.  Additionally, this investigation is the perfect opportunity for the Government to find out what evidence they really have and is a chance for them to dispose of cases that have no merit.  The Defense also gets a chance to see the evidence against them and have a practice trial.  This investigation allows all parties, to include, the accusers and the accused to go into a court-martial with their eyes wide open.  Also, if the Article 32 investigation reveals a severe lack of evidence against the accused it can save everyone a lot of time and money when it results in the dismissal of a case.  I have represented several servicemembers at their Article 32 investigations, and have succeeded in having charges dismissed after exposing the lack of evidence in the government’s case.  If you want to have the best opportunity to better your situation before it gets to the general court-martial stage, you need an experienced attorney representing you at your Article 32 investigation.  Don’t wait, call now.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

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