Servicemember granted a new sentencing hearing due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
A couple of weeks ago, I published a blog about the importance of presenting extenuation and mitigation evidence during the sentencing phase of a court-martial. Recently, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA), in U.S. v. Sickels sent out the same message. ACCA set aside a life without parole sentence for SGT Sickels because ACCA determined that he had ineffective assistance of counsel during the sentencing portion of his court-martial. According to ACCA’s opinion, the military defense counsel in this case conducted no investigation into any potential extenuation and/or mitigation evidence assuming that the civilian defense counsel would cover it. Also, according to ACCA’s opinion, his civilian defense counsel decided not to present any “good soldier” testimony about him based on reading a transcript of testimony from his separation hearing and not conducting personal interviews of his own. SGT Sickels therefore essentially presented nothing about himself during the sentencing phase of hiscourt-martial and his panel therefore only knew of his crimes. The court-martial panel never learned “the other side of SGT Sickels.” SGT Sickels received life without parole. He will now receive a new sentencing hearing with new counsel. If you are facing a court-martial or other adverse military action, you need someone with experience by your side who knows what evidence to present on your behalf and how to gather it. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.