Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CIVILIAN COURT-MARTIAL DEFENSE LAWYERS: Military Forcible Rape and Assault Court-Martial Case against Non-Commissioned Officer Dropped on Eve of Trial (UCMJ Article 120 and Article 128)

Military Criminal Defense Lawyer (Former JAG Attorney) News:

Recently, a military non-commissioned officer who was facing a general court-martial had his case withdrawn and dismissed (dropped) on the eve of trial based on information exposed by defense counsel.  The accused military member was defended by military law attorney Richard V. Stevens (Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.) and the member was accused of forcible rape and sexual assault (UCMJ Article 120) and physical assault (UCMJ Article 128). 

The case proceeded through an Article 32 hearing, but was initially dismissed based on a successful defense motion to dismiss due to legal issues surrounding Unlawful Command Influence (UCI) in the military justice system.  Unfortunately, the military appellate court sent the case back for trial, and trial was scheduled to proceed.  In the meantime, the defense had raised the issue of alleged misconduct by the complainant which she was, essentially, immunized from due to claiming rape.  We claimed she engaged in the misconduct but the military was not disciplining her because she alleged she was a rape victim – and this was her motive for making her claims.  She said she had no such motive because she did not engage in the alleged misconduct.  She said this to her command, she said this to the attorneys on the case, and she testified to this under oath during the Article 32 hearing. 

Based on her claims of innocence, the defense requested the Court compel production of the complainant's portable electronics, which contained information addressing the alleged misconduct.  After the defense requested them, two of the devices disappeared – one was traded in by the complainant and one was “lost”…despite the formal defense discovery requests.  Ultimately, the remaining devices were obtained through a defense motion to compel, were forensically analyzed, and information about the alleged misconduct was obtained – but the complainant maintained that she did not engage in the misconduct.  Finally, the defense successfully compelled immunity for a witness who confirmed not only that the complainant engaged in the misconduct she had claimed, under oath, that she was innocent of, but this witness also revealed that on the morning trial was scheduled to begin, the complainant asked him to lie on her behalf about the alleged misconduct.  It was at this point, on the morning trial was set to begin – with evidence destruction, lies under oath, and obstruction of justice by the complainant – that the case against the accused military member was withdrawn and dismissed.     

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

Despite the misinformed public narrative that an “epidemic” of rape and sexual assault pervades the military ranks, that all allegations are true, and that the military justice system “fails” and is “broken” when a case is dropped or results in acquittal (full not guilty verdict)…the reality is that the military justice system is full of dubious cases that arise due to the enabling culture of the “sexual assault industry” and the military legal system focusing more on public relations than on justice.  Here are some posts and cases that address these issues:

As I have said many times before regarding this issue:  It is a very sad chapter in the history of the military justice system.  In this case, however, the complainant’s misconduct was exposed through dogged legal challenges and in the nick of time. 

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, Article 125, type “rape” or “sexual assault” into the search bar above the blog posts.  Also, see:

We also 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.

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.

No comments: