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Military “Justice” Takes a Holiday

I am reminded yet again that military “justice” takes a holiday. Call after call and email after email with no returned calls and no replies. You see, it is the summer PCS season and cases that already have been languishing on investigations now are pushed ever farther to the right because the person tasked with “moving” it is moving jobs and / or residences.

The PCS slowdown lulls the servicemember pending investigation into a false sense of security, giving him hope that the “system” is working and that the false claim will not go forward. That would be wrong. By mid-August the cases that have been held up on someone’s desk will move again. Charges are coming. Yet the servicemember that relies on the lull as a positive sign is not preparing, through counsel, for the fight that is to come.

Each year in mid-August the government counsel charge all the cases that have been sitting for the past several months. When senior trial counsels, chiefs of justice, deputy staff judge advocates, and staff judge advocates transition, everyone stops forwarding cases to commanders. Commanders are changing command. No one wants to charge a case that will lose processing time in that rotation. So here we sit during this time of waiting.

After that initial shock of finding out a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coastguardsman is under investigation, when nothing happens for months there is a sense that all will work out on its own. And on occasion that likely is true. But what is more often the case is that the lull is due to changing out personnel.

In turn, valuable evidence like surveillance footage, electronic messages, and valuable witness memory is fading. Because military “justice” takes a holiday, and people hold out hope that truth will win out. The irony is that a belief in truth working its way out is what causes truth to be lost.

Government, enjoy your holiday. We know what is coming. And I’ll hope against hope that the lull does not cost my future clients their ability to defend themselves.