The Value in Retaining Counsel Early in the Case
Choice of counsel is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.
Every service member has a 6th Amendment, Constitutional right to his or her choice of counsel. Skilled attorneys can often preserve valuable evidence early in the case before witnesses forget, become reluctant to talk, or evidence is destroyed. We can also communicate with the command to try and dispose of charges before they are brought. It is even more valuable when counsel can become involved before even law enforcement. Additionally, many military defense lawyers do not independently investigate their own cases.
It is important to look for an attorney that is:
-Can communicate (communication is a two-way street - you should not feel reluctant to contact your attorney);
-Reasonable in fees;
-Available to properly prepare the case.
This firm has won many cases where we were able to intervene early and conduct a proper pretrial investigation by talking to witnesses, visiting the scene of events when appropriate, and engaging the command.
The well-known Haditha case was an example of a case where the government poured overwhelming resources into the investigation and prosecution of several Marines. This firm became involved early in the case. In some instances, we were able to talk to witnesses before NCIS did. The case was eventually dismissed after the Article 32 Investigation.
The Article 32 Investigation
Article 32 Investigations and pretrial investigations are in a constant state of change as the rules involving sexual assault cases are constantly diluted by Congress. The reality is that experienced counsel is becoming more important in the Article 32 Investigation.
In years past, many military counsel would use the Article 32 Investigation to conduct their own investigation. Under the new rules, the government is increasingly reluctant to produce witnesses and evidence at Article 32 Investigations. In that regard, a lawyer's most important work is behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, some military counsel have used the new rules as an excuse not fight at the Article 32 Investigation. Mr. Conway has had at least three sexual assault cases dismissed this year after the Article 32 Investigation because we put up a proper fight.
With the lack of access to victim's and evidence, experienced counsel is more important than ever.
There is no substitute for experience during the trial. Victims, adverse witnesses, law enforcement agents, and even experts can be predictable in their responses to questions. Experience goes a long ways in knowing what to ask - but also what not to ask.
As civilian counsel, because we do not wear a rank, we often have an additional license to conduct challenging cross-examinations. We, likewise, will not be intimidated by prosecutors senior in rank to detailed military attorneys.
The Decision to Testify
After your choice of counsel, the next most difficult decision you will have to make is whether to testify or not. This is where communication is key. Lawyers in this firm represent clients all over the world in deployed areas. We are accustomed to being accessible at night and on weekends.
At the end of the day, you need an attorney that can give you the time needed to develop your case, discover the story, identify a winning strategy, and prepare you for the stress of trial and deciding whether to testify. Contact the firm. We are happy to discuss your case for as long as needed to help you choose an attorney.
The Court-Martial Process
Your Right to an Attorney
How to Obtain Experts
Right to a Speedy Trial
Jury Selection in the Military
Types of Affirmative Defenses
The Military Rules of Evidence
Military Motions Practice
Sex Offender Registration
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All communications are confidential; however, free initial consultations with a military lawyer do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship.