Former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger called the American court-martial system “the most enlightened military code in history” — but few would call it perfect. In an unusual public ceremony in Seattle last year, the U.S. Army apologized for the wrongful convictions of 28 African-American soldiers of the 43 tried in the largest and longest court-martial of World War II. Most of the men were convicted in a court-martial of rioting during a 1944 uprising at Fort Lawton in which an Italian prisoner of war was lynched; two were convicted of manslaughter. Later, a 2005 book detailing misconduct by prosecutors prompted an Army investigation into the courts-martial, and the convictions were tossed out in 2007.
Addressing relatives of the men — only two defendants were still alive at the time, and neither attended the ceremony — then Assistant Army Secretary Ronald James said, “I’m sorry that your father, grandfather, and loved ones lost years of their freedom.”
The U.S. military court-martial is a storied, evolving system of justice. Because it is still an imperfect system, it is crucial that you or someone you know who is facing a court-martial secure the best possible representation. Please call William Cassara toll-free at (888) 288-3347 for a free consultation to discuss your options.