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Saturday, January 24, 2015

CIVILIAN COURT-MARTIAL DEFENSE LAWYERS: Innocent North Carolina Man Released From Prison after Nearly Four Decades Behind Bars


Military Criminal Defense Lawyer (Former JAG Attorney) News:

At a time when lawmakers and advocates are attempting to ensure prosecution victories in military courts-martial, and military defendants are being stripped of their ability to adequately investigate the cases against them and present their defense – another innocent man is freed from prison after decades behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.  See Fox News story here:


Joseph Sledge was cleared of the 1976 murders of a mother and her daughter by DNA testing.  He was convicted of the crime in 1978 and is now 70 years old.  According to the news story, Mr. Sledge was the third inmate to be freed in NC in the last six months!  And, he is one of eight convicts cleared and freed by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. 

Mr. Sledge’s conviction was based, in part, on the testimony of two jail house “snitches”…who notoriously lie to receive a benefit from the state.  One later recanted his testimony and admitted he lied to receive a reduced sentence in his case.  He also admitted to being coached about what to say on the stand.  The other snitch has since died, and his testimony was inconsistent with the first snitch.  None of the forensic evidence collected – hair, DNA, fingerprints – matched Mr. Sledge.      

While I know the positive aspect of his story is that an injustice was exposed and corrected, as a defense lawyer watching lawmakers chip away at the rights of military defendants to transform the system into a prosecution rubber stamp…this story is a depressing reminder of the personal cost associated with systemic errors.  Why isn’t this a concern in Congress???

To see other wrongful conviction blog posts, see, for example:





For more information about the military justice system, see our website at:

http://militaryadvocate.com/

We offer free consultations for a case you may be involved in.  Just call us.

Thank you.    

By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.
http://www.militaryadvocate.com


Blog postscript: Attorney Frank J. Spinner and I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) are former active duty military lawyers (JAG). Our perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon our experience as military defense lawyers and as civilian criminal defense lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens and The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in Northern Florida (Pensacola, Ft Walton, Destin, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Panama City, Tyndall AFB areas) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (FT Carson, Peterson AFB, Air Force Academy, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Buckley AFB areas), but our military defense law practices are worldwide – we travel to wherever our clients are stationed or serving and need us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MOH Recipient Dakota Meyer and Others Respond to Director Michael Moore's Characterization of Snipers as "Cowards"


On the heels of the release of the movie American Sniper, which depicts the life, sacrifices and courageous military service of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, and those he served with, director Michael Moore apparently tweeted that snipers are "cowards" not heroes and "invaders are worse." 

This was followed by a storm of understandably negative  reactions to the tweet, including comments by MOH recipient Dakota Meyer and others.  Then, in what could be considered a cowardly response, Michael Moore (sort of) backtracked and tried to explain away what appeared to be the clear intent of his original comments.  Stories appear, for example here:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/20/medal-honor-recipient-dakota-meyer-blasts-michael-moores-sniper-comments/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/20/entertainment/feat-michael-moore-sniper-tweet/

RIP Chris Kyle.  Thank you to you and your family for the sacrifices you made to protect your brothers-in-arms.  


By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.
http://www.militaryadvocate.com

Blog postscript: Attorney Frank J. Spinner and I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) are former active duty military lawyers (JAG). Our perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon our experience as military defense lawyers and as civilian criminal defense lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens and The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in Northern Florida (Pensacola, Ft Walton, Destin, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Panama City, Tyndall AFB areas) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (FT Carson, Peterson AFB, Air Force Academy, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Buckley AFB areas), but our military defense law practices are worldwide – we travel to wherever our clients are stationed or serving and need us.

  

Friday, January 16, 2015

CIVILIAN COURT-MARTIAL DEFENSE LAWYERS: Sexual Assault Court-Martial Case against Enlisted Military Member Dropped by Government Prior to Trial (UCMJ Article 120)



Military Criminal Defense Lawyer (Former JAG Attorney) News: 

Recently, a military enlisted member who was facing a general court-martial in which he was accused of assault and sexual assault of an acquaintance had his court-martial charges withdrawn and dismissed (dropped) as trial approached, in favor of an administrative disposition.  The accused military member was defended by military law attorney Richard V. Stevens (Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.). 

The case had already been through an Article 32 hearing and a deposition of the complainant.  Trial was set and was quickly approaching.  Leading up to the military trial, the defense was waiting on a forensic analysis of the complainant’s phone.  Once that analysis was completed and turned over to the defense, the motive of the complainant was fully revealed, and the inconsistencies in her prior testimony and statements were exposed.  At that time, the court-martial charges against the accused were dropped. 

In light of the changes to the military justice system, in which lawmakers are desperate to limit the defense ability to investigate the case and obtain sufficient discovery to defend the accused, one wonders why American lawmakers would favor a system that, for example, may not have uncovered the evidence described above under the newest military justice rules.  Once again, it is clear that lawmakers aren’t interested in the rights of the accused, fairness in the system, or justice – they are just interested in prosecution success.  I wish this message had more traction in the public narrative, and I wish more pressure would be put on lawmakers to honor the Constitution, the rights of an accused, the presumption of innocence, etc. 

Had this case gone to a general court-martial trial as originally intended by the government, the maximum authorized punishment for a court-martial conviction on the allegations in this case would have included significant time in prison, dishonorable discharge, reduction to E-1, total forfeitures of pay and allowances, and sex offender registration would have been required. 

While this military court-martial case was successfully defended, it is important to understand that every case has different facts, and success in previous cases does not guarantee success in any particular future case.  No military lawyer or civilian defense lawyer, including those who specialize in military law, can guarantee the outcome of any military trial or case.

For more information about the military justice system, particularly cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault in violation of UCMJ Article 120, type “rape” or “sexual assault” into the search bar above the blog posts.  Also, see:


We offer free consultations for a case you may be involved in.  Just call us.

Thank you.    

By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.
http://www.militaryadvocate.com

Blog postscript: Attorney Frank J. Spinner and I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) are former active duty military lawyers (JAG). Our perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon our experience as military defense lawyers and as civilian criminal defense lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens and The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in Northern Florida (Pensacola, Ft Walton, Destin, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Panama City, Tyndall AFB areas) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (FT Carson, Peterson AFB, Air Force Academy, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Buckley AFB areas), but our military defense law practices are worldwide – we travel to wherever our clients are stationed or serving and need us.

Friday, January 09, 2015

CIVILIAN COURT-MARTIAL DEFENSE LAWYERS: A New Year but the Same Old Rhetoric – “The Military Justice System is Broken and Needs to be Fixed!” Military Rape and Sexual Assault Court-Martial Cases (UCMJ Article 120)



Military Criminal Defense Lawyer (Former JAG Attorney) News: 

It is a new year, but the same old drum beat of rhetoric continues among misinformed and misguided members of Congress, the Executive, DoD, advocacy groups and press stories when addressing allegations of rape and sexual assault in the military justice system:  “The military justice system is broken and needs to be fixed!” 

The rules regarding pretrial Article 32 hearings have now been significantly changed.  The 2015 NDAA seeks more changes on top of those from the 2014 NDAA.  Procedural protections are being stripped at an alarming rate from military members accused of rape or sexual assault.  Opportunities for investigation and discovery into the veracity of allegations and credibility of complainants have been dramatically reduced.  Members of Congress are squabbling over whose ideas for changing the military justice system will be more effective…all attempting to ensure predetermined outcomes in military courts-martial – that the accused will be convicted, sentenced harshly, and receive no post-trial relief.  It’s hard to believe this is America.  It’s hard to believe a movement based on the presumption of guilt can so brazenly press forward in our government. 

Any American criminal justice system in which the rules are changed to reduce and limit investigation and discovery regarding complaining witnesses because the previous allowable investigation and discovery hurt the successful prosecution of cases is not a “justice” system at all, nor is it a system that values the rights expressed in, and arising from, the United States Constitution.  Any prosecutor or law maker who supports there being fewer procedural and discovery protections for a criminal accused is someone who has forgotten or ignored that the government’s responsibility in a criminal case is not simply to successfully convict the accused, but to ensure justice and fairness in the process. 

Not only are agenda-driven lawmakers taking aim at the military, they are taking aim at college campuses.  There is no balance in the public narrative, but there are those in the minority who are attempting to point out the erroneous presumptions fueling the lynch mob.  Here are some of them:

“The College Rape Overcorrection” by Emily Yoffe at Slate.com:


“10 Reasons False Rape Accusations are Common” by Jonathan Taylor at A Voice for Male Students:


“Start by Believing – the Accused” by Col Dan Higgins and Maj Shad Kidd at (Air Force) The Reporter, Volume 41, Issue #2, Page 16:


“Crying Rape” (False Allegations) by Cathy Young at Slate.com:


“Thinking Slow About Sexual Assault in the Military” by Air Force Maj Matthew Burris:


“The Pentagon’s Bad Math on Sexual Assault” by USMC Capt Lindsay Rodman (military rape/sexual assault statistics):


Attorney Edward Greer (the 2% false rape allegation myth):


Philip Rumney, of Sheffield Hallam University.  His article appears in the Cambridge Law Journal here (the 2% false rape allegation myth):


Professor Anne Hendershott, who teaches sociology and is the Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.  Her article appears in the Washington Times, here:



Roxanne Jones, who is a founding editor of “ESPN The Magazine” and a former Vice President at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women's topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events.  Her insightful CNN editorial about false rape allegations generally can be found here:



No one knows how this crusade to “fix” the military justice system will end, but the goal of the crusaders certainly is not justice, nor is it fairness, nor is it supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States.  The goal of the crusaders is prosecution victory.  Period.  That is a very dangerous perspective, and it is one often espoused by enemies of the United States in totalitarian regimes.    

For more information about the military justice system, particularly cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault in violation of UCMJ Article 120, type “rape” or “sexual assault” into the search bar above the blog posts.  Also, see:


We offer free consultations for a case you may be involved in.  Just call us.

Thank you.    

By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.
http://www.militaryadvocate.com

Blog postscript: Attorney Frank J. Spinner and I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) are former active duty military lawyers (JAG). Our perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon our experience as military defense lawyers and as civilian criminal defense lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens and The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in Northern Florida (Pensacola, Ft Walton, Destin, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Panama City, Tyndall AFB areas) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (FT Carson, Peterson AFB, Air Force Academy, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Buckley AFB areas), but our military defense law practices are worldwide – we travel to wherever our clients are stationed or serving and need us.