If you have been a defense attorney for any period of time you inevitably get a question from a prospective client asking you for your record at trial. This question is not necessarily misguided or irrelevant. Any reasonable person looking for professional service would likely want to find the very best or top provider of such service. When a military servicemember asks us what our record is at trial, we always return with the question. “What do you consider a win?”
Many would consider a win as a full acquittal or dismissal and they would be correct. However, think about a servicemember who is facing a maximum punishment of several decades in the Brig and dishonorable discharge. If they were to be found guilty of lesser-included offenses to the greater charges and a 30-day jail sentence, would that not too be considered a victory? Case in point, MJA represented a Navy Corpsman several months ago who was accused of sexually assaulting six Marines, and he was facing decades in the Brig if he were to be found guilty of even half the charges. At the contested General Court-martial, MJA vigorously defended the Corpsman by aggressively cross-examining each alleged victim and by the end of trial, the Corpsman was found guilty of only three of the 27 charges, sentenced to 30 days in the Brig and received no punitive discharge. Thus, he was not fortunate to get a full acquittal, and surely the command can say they got their convictions, but the Corpsman received what was the equivalent of Article 15 or non-judicial punishment, so was this a “win” or a “lose” for the accused?
MJA has had many full acquittals in the past several years, but we have had many more “functional acquittals” like the Navy Corpsman’s court-martial as well. It is important to note that no defense firm can guarantee results at a pending trial or court-martial, but here at MJA we feel very confident that we will get the very best result possible for our clients.