Of course, no military member ever wants to be in the position of needing a court martial attorney, but if you do ever find yourself in a position where you need one, it’s important to know your rights.
About Your Rights
When it comes to choosing your court martial defense lawyer, don’t let yourself be fooled into believing that whoever the military has automatically assigned to your case is your only option. You might be surprised to discover this, but you do have the right to have a civilian attorney represent you as well, although any civilian you hire will typically have to work alongside of and in coordination with your assigned military counsel.
Perhaps you’re wondering why anyone might want to do this, especially given that your assigned military counsel typically doesn’t cost you a dime, but hiring a civilian attorney definitely does. Does this kind of redundancy really offer any significant benefits? It certainly might, depending on the situation. Consider the fact that if your assigned military counsel already has a heavy workload of other cases to contend with (a common situation on busy installations), you are really only getting the time that they have available to give you, which may or may not be the time necessary to build the best possible defense for your case. Hiring a civilian attorney has the potential to bring a wealth of added strength and resources to your defense team, which may increase your chances of a favorable outcome in court. Indeed, doesn’t the idea of strength in numbers really speak to the heart of what the military is all about anyway? Using this idea to your advantage in court just makes good tactical and strategic sense.
About Choosing a Civilian Court Martial Attorney
On a very basic level, the person you really want to have on your side in court is someone you’re comfortable with and trust, someone whose personality doesn’t clash with yours and someone who makes you feel confident that every possible avenue for obtaining the best outcome for you is being pursued. When it comes to your assigned military counsel, you aren’t necessarily guaranteed to end up with someone who fits this bill. However, when it comes to choosing a civilian attorney, you can be as selective as you want. In addition to the basic criteria already mentioned, the best court martial defense lawyer will have a strong background in military law and a good track record when it comes to handling court martial cases similar to yours. He or she should also be willing to explain the ins and outs of your case to you in plain, easy-to-understand language and should be up-front and open about his or her legal fees and current caseload. Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions when interviewing potential lawyers to get the answers you need to these kinds of questions. Having the right information will help lead you to the right defense attorney for you.
If you’re facing a court martial, your legal team is the best line of defense you have against any charges that the military may be bringing against you. For increased peace of mind, know your rights and consider adding an experienced, skilled civilian court martial attorney to your defense team to strengthen your odds of obtaining a favorable outcome in court.