Will my court-martial go before an appellate court no matter what?
It depends. If you or your loved one is convicted at a court-martial and is given a sentence that either involves death or 1 year of confinement or longer, the case will be referred to the appropriate Court of Criminal Appeals. Additionally, the case will be referred to the Court of Criminal Appeals if the sentence included a dismissal (officers), dishonorable discharge or a bad-conduct discharge from the service. However, it is also important to note that this appellate review may not occur if the convicted servicemember waives or withdraws his case from appellate review. In most cases, I recommend that an accused NOT waive or withdraw from appellate review. It is important that a case be reviewed by an appellate court. This is a second set of eyes specifically looking at whether or not the court-martial was fair and complied with the law. There are many reasons why a court-martial conviction or sentence may be overturned by an appellate court and therefore, in most cases waiving this review is not smart. If a convicted servicemember’s case does not have the type of sentence that requires mandatory review by an appellate court under Rule for Courts-Martial (RCM) 1201 and he or she was tried at a general court-martial, The Judge Advocate General (TJAG) is required to review the case under RCM 1201(b). If TJAG directs, those cases may also go onto the appropriate service appellate court. In most cases, a court-martial will be reviewed. This appellate review is important and should not be taken lightly. At the point of appellate review, it is not too late to get an advocate by your side with experience. I have that experience in both court-martials and appeals. If you or your loved one believes that their court-martial should be appealed, call me now. I can help you both at the court-martial level and in your court-martial appeal. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.