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Monday, May 19, 2008

Support for American Soldiers Accused of Crimes out of Fighting the War on Terror in the Middle East

Reflecting back on the SFC Trey Corrales and SGT Leonardo Treviño cases, I can’t express how important the support – both moral support and financial support – was for the accused soldiers, their families and their defense teams. We thank you all so much.

Last year, I first wrote about organizations that were assisting these accused soldiers and their families with legal bills and other expenses incurred as a result of the accusations they faced. Here is the link to that blog post:

Scott Huddleston (San Antonio Express-News), who covered the SGT Leonardo Treviño case at Ft Hood, TX, addressed this support in his post-trial blog, stating:

"As in the Corrales case, Treviño's family held fund-raisers and relied on groups such as United American Patriots and the Military Combat Defense Fund to give the sergeant the best possible defense."

Mr. Huddleston’s entire blog post can be accessed at:

In the Treviño case, we received support from the people of San Antonio, TX (Leonard’s home town) and organizations like the Military Combat Defense Fund (MCDF). Some links for the MCDF, “Defend Our Troops” and “Defend Our Marines” can be found at:

All of the support we received was so very appreciated. The majority of support we received for the Treviño case, and continue to receive, came from the United American Patriots and their Warrior Defense Fund. They, like the others, doggedly seek support for these cases out of the Middle East. Throughout the Treviño case, they continued to express their support for us and to rally support for the Treviños and the Corrales family. This organization does the same for the other cases they are involved in, as I have seen in their e-mails and mailings since I was introduced to them. Some links to their organization are:

When asked about the support we received, I have continued to say the same thing – it was absolutely crucial.

As I have written elsewhere, it is very difficult and confusing for our military members and their families, who have sacrificed and contributed so much to the military's missions, to suddenly face accusations of crimes out of combat in the Middle East. Support – both moral support and financial support – is incredibly important for our troops and their families emotionally, and to cover the costs of defending these cases.

In order to properly defend our troops against these allegations, it takes a considerable amount of time and effort. For example, there were multiple pretrial hearings – Article 32 hearing, pretrial confinement hearing, motion hearing – in the Treviño case. There was the need to make multiple trips to Ft Hood to interview all the necessary witnesses. There was the need to spend a lot of time at Ft Hood preparing for trial, and then defending the case in trial. Some of these cases require trips to the Middle East – which means even more time away and more expense.

Most attorneys who specialize in military law, like we do, travel from our offices to the bases/locations where the cases are being held. These trips mean time away from other cases and considerable expenses for us to essentially live at the location of the trial for periods in which we're preparing the case and then trying the case. Without the donations the Treviños received, it would have been virtually impossible for them, or any similarly situated military family, to afford the defense provided.

I certainly feel guilty for saying that. I would love to be in a position to provide defenses to these troops for free. They sacrifice so much for us. But, the reality is that we turn away cases/clients to ensure we have the time necessary to devote to defending these cases, and we amass such considerable expenses in travel and working out of distant locations, that it isn't financially possible for us to defend these cases pro bono.

The support we received in these cases was so vital to a proper defense. Looking back, after two full acquittals (Treviño and Corrales), all the time and effort we poured into these defenses was well worth it. I just hope the organizations who provide this support continue to be able to raise and receive similar support for other cases they’re involved in. It is truly crucial for these families!

If you are reading this blog post, you are likely interested in the military justice system. At this time in our country’s history, the military justice system is dealing with many cases questioning the actions of our troops who are prosecuting the war in the Middle East. With so much media exposure, public access to and scrutiny on the actions of our troops, this trend is likely to continue until the troops all come home. As you will see throughout our law firm’s blog posts, we send our support and thoughts and prayers to our American soldiers who are fighting this war in very difficult conditions (insurgent warfare in urban environments) and in a very politically sensitive time. I hope you all continue to support our troops as well.

We thank everyone who expressed their support for our clients and their families throughout the Corrales and Treviño cases – whether it was words of encouragement or financial donations; both were so important for these successful defenses. You all played a part in these victories!

By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, PC

Blog postscript: Attorney Frank Spinner and I (attorney Richard 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. 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 & The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation.

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