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Friday, May 25, 2018

The Trouble With Presuming Guilt in America...

Civilian Court-Martial Defense Lawyer News:

Here is a Fox News story of consequence to the military justice system, and allegations of rape and sexual assault within the system: 

Alleged sexual assault is a complex issue. Many in (perhaps a sincere) effort to help, only end up making things worse. Here is an example of: (1) how easily a false allegation can be made without regard to the consequences for the person falsely accused; (2) how quickly an innocent person can have their life and reputation turned upside down by a false allegation; (3) how problematic the idea is of "start by believing" or, as they briefed in the military, "believe the victim." I once entered a military court room in which my client was accused of sexual assault where, right outside the court room, was a 6 foot sign reading "believe the victim" and that slogan was also on magnets on every stall in the men's bathroom that the court members would be using. Of course, the military judge ordered them removed, and my client was found not guilty in that trial...but, does anyone see the problem with this? While I know that innocent until proven guilty is only a legal requirement in America, why are we in America so willing to do just the opposite outside of court rooms?...Instead, opting to immediately presume guilt unless innocence is proven? Had this body cam footage not existed, this officer would be forever branded a rapist in the court of public opinion. And, if he was tried in court and acquitted, there would be cries of how the justice system failed and protected a rogue cop who is victimizing members of the public. Many of you will say a false allegation is just a rare about, instead, you just withhold your knee jerk, uninformed, opinions in any given case, and let the evidence play out? And, how about politicians, advocacy groups, and the press stop meddling in justice systems, such as in the military or such as in administrative disciplinary systems in our colleges, based on this terribly flawed premise that all allegations must be believed, and it is wrong to provide due process to defend against them?!  

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 and see

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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: I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) am a former active duty military lawyer (JAG). My perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon my experience as military defense lawyer and as a civilian criminal defense lawyer 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 for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in the Northern Florida/Georgia areas, but the military defense representation is worldwide – when necessary, the attorneys travel to wherever the client is stationed around the world.

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