Sexual assault is a vile, horrific and unconscionable act of violence — there are few crimes that evoke as much emotion and outrage — and efforts the eradicate it from the military have swept the nation, with the President, Vice-President, Congress and military leaders all joining the bandwagon of reform to prevent it and hold perpetrators accountable. Laudable goals that I think have gone too far. I will start with a little background.
After duty as a civilian defense counsel (CDC), trial counsel (TC), senior defense counsel (SDC) and brigade judge advocate (BJA), in August 2008, I assumed the duties as Chief of the Defense Counsel Assistance Program (DCAP) in the United States Army. My primary duties were to coordinate litigation training for all the criminal defense lawyers (U.S. Army Trial Defense Service) in the U.S. Army, both active duty, and reserves. One of the first meetings I attended as Chief of DCAP involved how the U.S. Army JAG Corps was going to address the perceived crisis surrounding sexual assault in the military. Also at this meeting was the Chief of the Trial Counsel Assistance Program (TCAP), members of the trial judiciary, representatives from the Office of The Judge Advocate General’s (OTJAG) Criminal Law Division and several other military justice elders in the JAG Corps. In no uncertain terms, the message was that the Secretary of the Army wanted us to address the issue of combating sexual assault and improving the prosecution of such cases — it was clear that there was money to be spent and that if we did not correct the perceived problem internally, Congress would “fix it.” Continue reading “A Life of Its Own: The Effort to Combat Sexual Assault in the Military and its Intended (and Unintended) Consequences – Thoughts of a Court-Martial Defense Lawyer”