Judge rules that two Sailors accused of sexual assault cannot be discharged because of President Obama’s unlawful command influence.

According to the Stars and Stripes, Navy Judge Commander Marcus Fulton recently ruled during two pretrial hearings in court martials, U.S. v. Johnson and U.S. v. Fuentes, that President Obama’s public comments in May 2013 would unduly influence panel members and/or military judge sitting on the court-martials to discharge the Sailors accused of sexual assault.  He therefore ruled that the sentence in these court-martials could not include a punitive discharge.  According to the press, on May 7, 2013, President Obama stated, “[t]he bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this…I expect consequences…So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way.  If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged.  Period.”  This is an interesting and important ruling.  It simply goes to show you that regardless of the political focus on sexual assault right now, there are many ways that an experienced and informed attorney can advocate for a servicemember accused of sexual assault.  If you were sentenced to a punitive discharge during a court-martial after May 7, 2013, you may have a valid court-martial appeal based on President Obama’s comments.  Additionally, if you are currently facing a court-martial for sexual assault, you may be able to raise President Obama’s comments during your court-martial proceedings.  Finally, these comments may prove helpful to those facing nonjudicial punishment and/or administrative action based on sexual assault allegations.  If you are facing sexual allegations in this environment, you need an experienced and informed advocate on your side.  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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