The Importance of the Military Appeal Process in Military Court-Martial Cases 

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Don King of King Military Law recently met with a client at the Camp Pendleton Jail. After a court-martial conviction, the client’s family hired Don to handle their son’s military appeal. This encounter prompted Don to create a video to emphasize the significance of the appeal process in military cases. Most people don’t understand it and underestimate its importance, but it offers a real chance for some remedy, ranging from reduced sentences to a new trial and even having the client found not guilty at the appellate level. In this video, Don, who twice served as a Senior Judge on the Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, explains the appeal process and why it should never be overlooked.   

The Power of Military Appellate Courts 

Unlike civilian appellate courts, military appellate courts have the authority to find clients not guilty and eliminate their convictions entirely, preventing any future retrials. Civilian appellate courts do not have this authority. Don discusses several cases where he overturned convictions and why. However, he reminds us that it can be a complex process, so it’s crucial to approach the military appeal process correctly, which is why hiring an experienced military attorney is of utmost importance. 

While he acknowledges that not everyone has a strong case on appeal, Don has seen numerous instances where clients succeeded. You need a military lawyer experienced in military appeals to review the case as soon as possible since there are strict deadlines to submit military appeals.   

The Role of Appellate Experience 

Ideally, you should retain an attorney experienced in military appellate law to represent you at the initial court martial. The reason is that your trial lawyer must understand and “capture” issues at the trial level that may help you on appeal. If your military trial lawyer fails to address and preserve critical issues during the trial, those issues cannot be used in the appeal process. Preserving issues for appeal is vital, so ensure your trial lawyer has appellate experience if possible. Such an attorney will understand how to tackle both stages of the legal process to maximize the chances of a successful appeal should you be found guilty at trial. Hiring a military lawyer with expertise in courts-martial trials AND appeals can dramatically improve your chances of ensuring every issue is preserved and used for your benefit.   

Don’t Overlook the Appeal Process 

Don closes by encouraging the viewer to think about the appeal process within the military court system. IT’S A REAL CHANCE at a second shot if you need it and might result in a finding of not guilty.  If that happens, you are released from prison, restored to active duty, all your lost benefits are restored, and your conviction is erased. Don hopes that by understanding that you have this chance, many more servicemembers will pursue it.  

If you or your loved one has been convicted at a military court-martial, please reach out to an attorney experienced in military appeals.  If you are facing the beginning of a military court martial, try to engage a military trial attorney experienced in military appeals. Doing so will increase your chances of success.  

If you or a loved one find yourself accused of a crime in the military or need of an appeal, the team at King Military Law has over a century of combined experience, including experience as military judges, military appellate judges, prosecutors, military defense attorneys, military law enforcement officers, and military Commanding Officers–all ready and willing to support your fight. Give us a call–and let us help.  

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