What is a mistrial? Could it put a stop to my court-martial?
During a court-martial, a defense counsel may make a motion to the military judge for a mistrial. If a motion for a mistrial is granted by the military judge, then the servicemember’s court-martial is terminated. The charges and specifications in the court-martial are withdrawn and returned to the convening authority. The convening authority can then decide to refer them to a new court-martial or dispose of them altogether. If they are referred again, the whole process starts fresh. Because granting a mistrial is such a drastic measure, military judges are directed to use this power “with great caution.” This means that these motions are not granted very often, however, sometimes they are. If a motion for a mistrial is granted in your case, it could change everything for you in a positive way. Being an experienced defense counsel, I am very familiar with motions for mistrial and I know when to make them. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) in United States v. Hornback ruled that there was significant prosecutorial misconduct during the court-martial. CAAF determined that “trial counsel repeatedly and persistently elicited improper testimony, despite repeated sustained objections as well as admonition and instruction from the military judge.” One of the dissenting CAAF judges in this case remarked about the fact that the defense counsel did not make a motion for mistrial during the court-martial. While there is no way to know for sure, it is possible that if the defense counsel had made a motion for mistrial in that case, it may have been granted. It takes experience to know when a motion for mistrial is appropriate. I have the experience you need. Call me to discuss your court-martial or court-martial appeal today. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.