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Court Martial Appeals

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What happens after the court-martial is over?

At the conclusion of the court-martial, the government is responsible for compiling a verbatim transcript (in most cases) of the testimony of the court-martial, and all of the “allied papers” which includes the police reports, Article 32 report, motions filed at trial, etc. This is called the Record of Trial (ROT.)

Once the record of the trial, or transcript, is completed, it is “served” on the defense counsel and the accused. The accused then has ten days to ask the convening authority for clemency. This ten day period can be extended for twenty additional days. The submission to the convening authority is an important step in the court-martial process. Great care should be taken in the preparation of the clemency petition. An attorney with experience in courts-martial and courts-martial appeals can assist in the preparation of the clemency petition. Unfortunately, due to recent action by Congress, the power of the convening authority to provide meaningful relief at clemency has been greatly curtailed.  Even though the convening authority has not taken final action on the sentence, any sentence of confinement begins immediately after the trial is over, unless deferred by the convening authority.

Once the convening authority takes final action, if the approved sentence includes confinement for more than one year, a punitive discharge or death, the case is automatically referred to the Court of Criminal Appeals of that particular service.  This may be the Army, Navy-Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. This court consists of panels of three military appellate judges, whose sole job is to review courts-martial appeals from their service. At this stage, the service member is provided with a military attorney from the Defense Appellate Division of his or her service. In addition, the service member can retain a civilian attorney to represent him before the Court of Criminal Appeals.

This is the start of the appeals process, and is the most important step in getting relief on appeal.  Your attorney will prepare an appellate brief for submission to the court, which will outline errors made at trial, and matters that your attorney believes may have lead to an unfair trial.  This requires a thorough review of the ROT, research of applicable case law, and potentially interviews with witnesses.  It requires close coordination between the attorney and the client.

After the brief is submitted to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the government’s lawyers will then file a response. Then, your attorney can either file a “reply brief” request “oral argument” or rest on the brief that was filed.  These are all extremely important decisions, and require the services of an experienced court-martial appeals lawyer.

If the sentence does not meet the above requirements, an appeal is then processed by the office of the Judge Advocate General for your service.

If you have been convicted of a crime and want to seek an appeal,
contact our firm today for a free consultation.

Frequently asked questions and answers:

Staff Sergeant's Sexual Assault Conviction Reversed on Appeal

By William Cassara | October 26, 2012

Mr. Cassara represented an Army Staff Sergeant who was sentenced to 35 years confinement for sexual assault of a minor.  After the Army Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction, Mr. Cassara  petitioned the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces on the soldier’s behalf.  That court sent the case back to the Army Court […]

Airman's court-martial conviction for rape of a minor reversed on appeal

By William Cassara | May 18, 2012

Mr. Cassara represented an Airman on his court-martial appeal for rape of a minor.  During the court-martial, one panel member had to be excused, and two more replaced him. While this is an authorized practice, Mr. Cassara argued during his court-martial appeal that this denied the airman the right to confront his accuser.  The Air […]

Soldier's court-martial conviction for child pornography reversed.

By William Cassara | May 18, 2012

Mr. Cassara represented an Army Staff Sergeant on his court-martial appeal. The soldier was convicted of possession of child pornography and other offenses. During his court-martial appeal, Mr. Cassara argued that his court-martial conviction for possession of child pornography was invalid, as most of the pictures the soldier possessed were clearly not child pornography.  After […]

Marine's rape conviction overturned, sentence reduced.

By William Cassara | May 18, 2012

Mr. Cassara represented a Marine Gunnery Sergeant on his court-martial appeal.  The Marine was convicted of rape of a minor among other charges and sentenced to nearly 15 years confinement.  During his court-martial appeal, Mr. Cassara argued that the military judge improperly instructed the panel on the law, and that the accused was denied a […]

Obtained reversal of all charges for Airman convicted of child sexual abuse

By William Cassara | March 20, 2012

Mr. Cassara represented an Air Force member who was convicted of sexually abusing a neighbor’s daughter and sentenced to nine years in jail. On appeal of his court-martial conviction, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with Mr. Cassara that the Airman’s rights were violated and that he was denied a fair trial. The […]

DNA evidence leads to reversal of charges against Navy Officer

By William Cassara | January 6, 2012

Mr. Cassara represented a former Navy officer who had been accused at court-martial of rape. The officer was convicted of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Fraternization.  After contacting Mr. Cassara, we learned that the DNA evidence used at his court-martial to prove he had sex with the alleged victim had been handled by a United […]

Secured reversal of court-martial conviction on appeal for sailor convicted of shoplifting

By William Cassara | December 31, 2011

Mr. Cassara secured reversal of court-martial conviction on appeal for sailor convicted of shoplifting. Sailor originally sentenced to four months confinement and a bad conduct discharge. Mr. Cassara later determined that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service had lost the store video tape which the government had used against the sailor in order to sustain the […]

Secured reversal of court-martial conviction of Army Chief Warrant Officer convicted of larceny and dismissed from the service

By William Cassara | December 31, 2011

Mr. Cassara secured reversal of court-martial conviction of Army Chief Warrant Officer convicted of larceny and dismissed from the service. Officer was originally convicted of multiple counts of larceny from the bank account of a family member of a deceased soldier. Mr. Cassara successfully argued on appeal that the evidence did not support the conviction, […]

Secured full reversal of court-martial conviction for Air Force Master Sergeant convicted of rape

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Mr. Cassara secured full reversal of court-martial conviction for Air Force Master Sergeant convicted of rape. Decision allows Master Sergeant to keep his retirement and rank. Airman was charged with rape. After being convicted at court-martial, he retained Mr. Cassara to handle his appeal. Mr. Cassara succeeded in getting the entire conviction overturned, after learning […]

Secured reversal of court-martial conviction for Air Force Staff Sergeant convicted of rape

By William Cassara | December 31, 2011

Mr. Cassara secured reversal of court-martial conviction for Air Force Staff Sergeant convicted of rape. Airman was charged with rape. After being convicted at court-martial, he knew he needed an experienced court martial appeal attorney and  retained Mr. Cassara to handle his court martial appeal. Mr. Cassara succeeded in getting the conviction overturned after learning […]