Court Martial Law

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

West Point Drug-Dealing Probe: Cadet Toll Rises to Seven Charged

Q: What kind of disciplinary action do military cadets face for drug charges?

For several months, a probe has been ongoing into suspected military drug crimes at the US Military Academy in West Point. The list of cadets facing charges continues to rise with a seventh cadet being recently added.

Two of the six cadets initially charged will face Read more . . .

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Military Child Porn Case: Hard Drive Leads to Hard Time

Q: What are the possible punishments for possessing child pornography in military court?

In military court, the potential punishments upon a guilty plea or conviction in a child pornography court-martial case can be severe. In addition to confinement, the soldier may face dishonorable discharge and loss of all veteran’s and military benefits.

With their reputation, career, family life, freedom, and financial future on the line, accused soldiers would be wise to consult an experienced civilian Read more . . .

Monday, January 16, 2017

Lawyers Petition Supreme Court to Review Marine’s Court-Martial

Were Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling’s religious freedoms violated by her superior?

In February of 2014, Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was convicted by court-martial for violating several articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Sterling received a bad conduct discharge along with a reduction in rank.  The charges against Sterling are controversial and stem from several incidents that happened in 2013.  One such incident involved Sterling’s superior requesting that she remove a biblical message taped to her work station.  The message stated “No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” and was based on a biblical passage found in Isaiah 54:17.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Look at September’s Courts-Martial Verdicts

What rights do I have if I am convicted by court-martial?

The Army recently released its list of verdicts from September’s courts-martial.  In sum, forty-four courts-martial took place among the five judicial circuits.  Charges faced by military members ranged from conspiracy and abusive sexual contact to obstruction of justice and absence without leave.  While there were a few acquittals, the majority of defendants were convicted.  Sentences ranged greatly in severity.

Read more . . .

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Political Thicket

Have you ever heard of Felix Frankfurter? Although you might guess that he is the inventor of the hot dog, he’s not. He’s actually a famous United States Supreme Court Justice that served from the 1930s to the 1960s. One of the things he is best known for is warning the court to stay out of the “political thicket.” Basically, he didn’t think the court get involved with cases that decide political questions because they are messy, and they end up making everyone mad.

This is as good advice today as when it was given, and it applies to the military justice system just as well as the civilian courts.

Read more . . .

Monday, August 8, 2016

New Sentencing Hearing for Airman on Military Death Row


When was the last military execution?


In 2005, Andrew Paul Witt, an enlisted airman based in Georgia, was sentenced to death for the murder of a married couple in the summer of 2004. The Air Force court overturned the sentence in 2013 due to apparent "shortcomings" of his defense counsel, but four judges who were not on the appeals court at the time of the oral  arguments recused themselves.


In 2014, upon request by the government for reconsideration, the court reversed that ruling and upheld the death sentence, with three of those judges taking part in the decision. In July, the highest military appeals court ordered another sentencing hearing after finding that the lower Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals mishandled Witt's original appeal.


While the decision did not focus on the underlying crime, the ruling raised concerns over whether the technical legal error would damage the military justice system's reputation.

Read more . . .

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Court Martial Can Be Big Trouble if You Aren’t a Natural Born Citizen

Since the days of the Revolutionary War, serving in the United States military has been a way for non-citizens to gain the right to call themselves Americans. Today, the government is granting record numbers of immigrants who serve in our nation’s military, and their families, citizenship thanks to an Executive Order that was put into place shortly after 9/11.

Contrary to what some people have been lead to believe, serving in the military does not guarantee you will be granted citizenship. You must meet the basic, general requirements all who want to be citizens must meet:

  • Good moral character,
  • Knowledge of the English language,
  • Knowledge of U.S.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Parris Island Drill Instructors Being Investigated in Hazing Death

Will the hazing probe at Parris Island lead to a court martial?

In November 2015, a Muslim recruit died at the Marine Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina after a 40 foot fall in a barracks stairwell. Now, more than a dozen drill instructors are under investigation. The recruit died only days after arriving at the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.

 “The allegations, against approximately 15 drill instructors and affiliated leadership, identify potential violations of Marine Corps orders to include hazing, physical abuse, assault and failure of supervision,” officials with Training and Education Command said in a statement.

The Marines being investigated in the boot camp hazing death have all be re-assigned to duties that do not involved interacting with recruits.

Read more . . .

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What Is A Typical Court Martial Timeline?

A couple weeks ago, it was announced that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s court martial, which had been previously scheduled to begin this August, has been pushed back to February 2017. This is a long time to wait when your livelihood, reputation, and freedom are on the line, but news reports suggest the delay is due in part to both the government and Bergdahl’s legal defense team needing more time to sort through classified documents.

The Bergdahl case is anything but typical, and the extended timeline is another example of that. So, what is a typical timeline for a court martial case? The answer is the typical lawyer answer: it depends.

Read more . . .

Friday, June 10, 2016

Marine Corps Issues New Tattoo Policy

Why is the Marine Corps' tattoo policy more restrictive than other branches of the armed services?

The Marine Corps recently issued a new tattoo policy which is slightly more lenient than the previous rules that were updated in 2010. At the same time, the policy is more restrictive than the Army's policy that allows soldiers to have "sleeve tats" or neck tats recently approved by the Navy.

Marine Tattoo Policy at  a Glance

The new policy is quite detailed as to where Marines can have tattoos and how large they can be. For example, a bicep tattoo that shows in a physical training uniform can now be an inch wider. But there are spots that are off-limits, such as the area surrounding the elbows, which means shoulder to wrist tats are forbidden.

Read more . . .

Friday, April 15, 2016

U.S. Military Cracks Down on Sex Crimes

What is being done about sexual misconduct in the U.S. military?

The U.S. military is ramping up its efforts to handle Read more . . .

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