You Have Rights Following Article 15’s, Letters of Reprimand, GOMORs and other Non-Judicial Punishments
While the UCMJ governs criminal misconduct in our military, non-criminal misconduct is governed by a complex assortment of statutes, orders and service regulations known as military administrative law. Military administrative law allows superiors in a chain of command to censure a service member’s conduct or draw attention to a service member’s conduct. These actions can lead to more serious consequences such as a reduction in rank, placement in correctional custody, loss of a security clearance, loss of pay, extra duty or additional restrictions. Common actions and devices allowing for reprimand under military administrative law include:
- An Article 15 (or Captain’s Mast), which allows for a lower-level trial conducted by a commander following a punitive offense as defined by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
- Letters of Reprimand (LOR), which is an official censure for service members who fail to comply with established standards.
- General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR), which is a form of an LOR and is enacted by a general officer, admiral or other officer with general court martial jurisdiction concerning a service member under his or her command. These can be placed into your official file and have the potential to cause harm for the rest of your career.
- Reduction Boards are used to reduce enlisted service members of certain ranks more than one grade.
- Officer Show Cause Boards is a process that results in an officers needing to “show cause” as to why he or she shouldn’t be separated from the military under the provisions of AR 600-8-24.
- Flying Evaluation Boards are used to determine whether a pilot, navigator or aircrew can continue flying or whether they should be suspended from flight duty temporarily or permanently.
- Loss or Suspension of Security Clearance occurs when a service member commits misconduct that might impact their trustworthiness to possess or have access to classified information.
These military administrative law devices are meant to allow officers and the military in general to provide appropriate censure to service members when infractions occur. Like any complex process involving an endless variation of personalities, circumstances and allegations, though, military administrative law is open to interpretation. For example, officers can bear a grudge and inappropriately pursue reprimands for low-level offenses. Officers can also inadvertently select the wrong type of censure, adding unnecessary complexity and confusion to an already harrowing process, and leading service members to face the possibility of an inappropriately high level of reprimand including, in many cases, discharge.
If you face a LOR, GOMOR or other form of reprimand, the best response is to contact an attorney whose practice is dedicated to assisting service members fight charges of military crimes and non-criminal administrative actions. An attorney can gather relevant facts and use precise knowledge of military law and procedures to question administrative actions and defend your rights.
Do you feel singled out? Do you feel a one-time, minor instance may permanently affect your entire future career with the military? Do you question a superior’s claim to inappropriate behavior or unsatisfactory performance? Do you feel that you have gotten your life back on track after a temporary, challenging time and feel that you deserve a second chance?
Many tactics – ranging from carefully supported claims for leniency to exhaustive investigations that prove service person’s innocence – frequently succeed in saving careers, preventing rank reductions, halting discharge actions and keeping records clean. Often, clear and promising strategies can be identified and planned during a brief first meeting between a service person facing an administrative action and an experienced attorney. To learn more about your options following a GOMOR, LOR or other administrative action, contact an administrative action attorney.