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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:

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.

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.

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