Reflecting on 2021, there was plenty to be happy about, unfortunately the world was still in the grips of the pandemic and I was still playing legal whack-a-mole. All in all, we are where we needed to be to do the most good for military justice.
Welcome to Part 2 of Year In Review 2021.
I’m Over It! For Military Justice – Since the first case in the USMC that I tried as a civilian defense counsel, I had to accept that there was a seeming (hopefully) rebuttable presumption that civilian defense attorneys were unethical and incompetent. I felt it from the judiciary, from trial counsel (prosecutors), and even from uniformed defense counsel. I get it. They’ve all been burned before. ALL of us have had experiences with lazy and incompetent civilian defense counsel, who collect the fee but rely on the work performed by the appointed military counsel.
Access to Experience for More in Military Justice – A friend reminded me recently that even though not everyone can afford my full representation, there are plenty of people who still need and value my time.
Pretrial Conferences for Military Justice – For the past few years, the pretrial orders in the judicial circuit where I practice the majority of my cases has required a pretrial status conference between the government and the defense counsel. Our then chief circuit judge mandated these joint meetings between the parties to facilitate communication. I imagine these conferences were established to hopefully help us to identify areas that we could reach common understanding and maybe stop issues from delaying trials.
Federal Crime Base Reporting in Military Justice – The second week of July 2021, a federal judge decided that the Air Force was more responsible for a mass-shooting in Texas than the actual gunman who did the shooting.
Block Out The Noise of Military Justice – Innocent until proven guilty. Right. Sure. Not so much. I keep waiting for someone to give me a reasonable and logically sound justification for why the press is free to print the name of a person accused of a sexual assault in the military but never the accuser.
Restore Faith In Military Justice – I cannot possibly count the number of potential military clients who call me after feeling like they have been railroaded. By their detailed military defense counsel. Yep. I said what I said.
Wounds That Don’t Heal – Some wounds don’t heal. Not really. They may scab over, they may scar, but inevitably they resurface. Some wounds just don’t heal. Among them is deep loss.
No Crystal Ball – For Military Justice – The number of consultations I take ebbs and flows with my current case load. I remember that was one of the hardest balances to achieve when I started in private practice was determining the right ratio between working on current cases and cultivating leads for new potential clients.
Does It Sound Like My Military Counsel Will Be Enough To Successfully Represent Me In My Trial – When a caller on an initial consultation asks me whether his military counsel will be enough, that says a lot about his confidence level. If he’s asking the question, it tends to reason he is feeling some level of doubt. Or maybe he’s looking for an atta-boy and to get back into the “game.”
How Likely Is It That I Won’t Be Charged? – Callers on consultations ask whether they will be charged at all; they also ask about the chances or the odds or for percentages. Each of these concerns comes from a place of anxiety because they fear the unknown. That is natural. By calling, they are looking for a lifeline. I get it.
What Are The Chances That If I Go All The Way To Trial That I Will Be Charged? – Calls for consultation often ask me their chances for conviction or acquittal. Mind you, this is with no investigation for review, not having interviewed one witness, and based solely on about a ten-minute recitation of “the facts.”
Is My Retained Civilian Lawyer Doing What He Should Be – One of my all-time least favorite questions to be asked in a consult is an invitation to comment on another civilian practitioner. In my mind, that is a topic for a candid conversation to be having with one’s retained lawyer. Because chances are if the potential client is asking it, then there are doubts. It is not for me to get in between that lawyer and his client. Period.
Firing Synapses of Discovery for Military Justice – No matter how often I train or participate in psychodrama, I continue to be delighted in its transformative powers.
Caught in the in Between of Military Justice – Legal assistance says they can’t help you, so they forward you to the trial defense office or defense service office. The defense office says they cannot help you until your case becomes a court-martial or some other derogatory action that jeopardizes your career. So, what do you do? You are caught in the in between of military justice.
Oversharing For Military Justice – I overshare. Yep. It’s what I do. Fortunately, most of it happens in this space, where people have a choice to “look” away. Or click away, as it were.