How can I be sure my appellate defense counsel will raise all the errors that occurred in my court-martial? What is a Grostefon issue?

If you are appealing your court-martial, chances are you will not have the same defense counsel representing you in your appellate case as you did during your court-martial.  Therefore, your appellate defense counsel will have to read through the transcript from your court-martial to find out what appellate issues may be present in your case.  Because you were present at your own court-martial, you will also have a vast amount of knowledge regarding potential errors that occurred in your court-martial.  You can talk these errors over with your appellate defense counsel and decide together whether or not they are valid.  Additionally, you, yourself have the personal right to raise issues that you believe should be raised at the appellate level even if your appellate attorney does not raise them himself.  These issues you raise independently may be considered by the appellate courts in addition to those issues raised by your defense counsel.  These independent issues are often called “Grostefon issues.”  This term originates from a 1982 Court of Military Appeals case called United States v. Grostefon.  In this case, the court ruled that a detailed defense appellate counsel must inform the military appellate courts of any issues raised by an appellant, even if the defense counsel believes that the issues do not have merit.  Recently, in United States v. Caldwell, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) has decided to review a Grostefon issue raised by an appellant.  In this case, the appellant personally asked the court to consider whether the military judge in the court-martial erred when he instructed the panel to use a negligence standard for an Article 93 violation (Maltreatment of a Subordinate).  CAAF believes the issue may have merit and the defense counsel and government counsel will now file briefs regarding this topic.  There are a lot of appellate issues out there that have merit.  If you or your loved one is looking to appeal a court-martial, you need someone with experience.  I can read through your court-martial transcript and tell you whether you have valid appellate issues.  Any issues you want raised must be raised even if they are raised as a Grostefon issue.  I have a lot of experience with court-martials and court-martial appeals.  Call me and we will talk about the case together.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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