Maybe, maybe not. Military defense attorneys are often new to the uniform and often new to the law. On most military installations, military defense counsel are far out-numbered by the number of military prosecutors. The military trial defense office can be under-staffed and are typically manned by one or more O-3s, most of whom have little to no prior trial experience. Even though they are O-3s, many of them have only been in uniform, much less attorneys, for only a few years. The senior attorney who supervises each office often has never been a defense attorney before. The only O-4 or O-5 in a supervisory role over defense attorneys is a regional defense counsel who can be stretched thin over multiple installations. Each trial defense office or area defense office is reliant on the government for its day-to-day budget, office supplies, and even training funds.
With the resources and personnel so skewed against the military trial defense office, it becomes even more important that the service members’ lawyer be more experienced and knowledgeable about the military justice system. Many commentators once boasted that the military justice system is far more fair than most civilian systems because of alleged greater protections; none of these protections matter if you are represented by an attorney who does not know how to take full advantage of the protections that remain.
Some accused of crimes under the UCMJ are willing to gamble with the experience level and the workload of the detailed (appointed) military attorney. Others realize that with so much at stake, including military retirement, personal liberty, and for some the risk of sex offender registration, they want to invest in an attorney with a depth of experience, who focuses her efforts on a select number of cases.
Being a former service member herself and working exclusively on military cases, Ms. Stewart has amassed experience to help in the following areas of the UCMJ:
When faced with the decision of hiring a UCMJ specialist, Ms. Stewart’s former clients explain all that is necessary about her commitment to their case and her expertise in handling the toughest legal battles. Learn more about her unique abilities in the words of her clients, peers, and military judges.