While in theory every military defendant has a right to a fair trial before an impartial decision-maker, in the real world many service members are finding this right is being jeopardized because they are also being tried in the court of public opinion.
Depending on the circumstances, media attention may pose a serious threat. If you are accused of sexual assault, a violent crime, or a drug crime, your reputation may suffer, your family may be exposed to considerable stress and shame, and it is possible that you will be convicted largely as an example to others and to demonstrate that the military is tough on offenders.
The military is facing increased pressure from the media, politicians, and the public to more strictly and swiftly punish offenders. This current atmosphere means service members accused of misconduct must be prepared to aggressively defend their rights both in and out of the courtroom in order to have any hope of clearing their name.
This is particularly true when a service member stationed abroad is accused of a crime. The American and international media would like nothing better than to boost their ratings, and government officials can always use another pawn in their power plays, so military defendants become the necessary poster child.
The key to preventing this from happening to you is hiring a defense attorney that is experienced with both military law and public relations. Preparing for media attention in advance means that you will be able to tell your own story rather than see bits and pieces of it trickle out from other sources. Getting your story out in an accurate, timely, and ethical fashion will ensure your right to a fair trial is not jeopardized because you have been portrayed in a negative light by the media.
When you work with an attorney who knows how to use media coverage to your advantage, you can save yourself and your family from public exploitation and even build public support in your favor.
Attorney Ryan Coward has the experience necessary to effectively handle your case in the courtroom and on the public stage. Prior to going into private civilian practice, Mr. Coward was assigned to the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service in Fort Hood, Texas as a Trial Defense Counsel. At Fort Hood he was selected to serve as a Capital Defense Counsel on the defense team representing Major Nidal Hasan, who was accused of the Fort Hood shooting.
The Hasan case was highly publicized, and rightly so, yet nobody is arguing Hasan was treated unfairly by the military justice system. Though under intense public scrutiny, Coward and the other members of Hasan’s legal team worked to ensure the accused received a fair trial.
Following his work representing MAJ Hasan, Mr. Coward was assigned, as part of his Army Reserves duties, to represent SSG Robert Bales, who was charged and convicted with murdering 16 Afghan civilians. As part of the SSG Bales defense team, Mr. Coward represented SSG Bales in all post-trial proceedings following his conviction. Mr. Coward’s involvement in this case is yet another example of his skill and experience working on some of the nation’s highest profile cases.
Every member of the military deserves an attorney that is cool under pressure and will fight for justice in the courtroom and in the courts of public opinion. If you are, or believe you might be, facing a military court-martial, the time to secure an experienced attorney that will aggressively defend your rights, your honor, and your life is now.