As a service member, if adverse action is brought against you, you have the right to one military attorney at no cost to you. In other words, one JAG officer will be appointed to represent you. You have the option, however, to hire a civilian military defense lawyer. If faced with legal action, you might wonder, why would I hire a military defense lawyer when the military is already giving me a lawyer for free?
Often, the appointed military lawyer is fresh out of law school and has very little experience under his or her belt. You should ask this attorney about how long they’ve been a JAG, how long they’ve been a defense attorney, how many jury trials have they done, and how many cases similar to yours have they litigated. If the numbers aren’t substantial, consider whether you might rather hire someone with more knowledge and litigation experience. While many military attorneys are extremely competent and skilled, many others are overworked or inexperienced. It’s important to be sure that you are comfortable with whoever you choose to represent you. Be sure that you are a priority and they they have the resources to dedicate to your case.
Military lawyers are subject to the military bureaucracy. That being said, they might be motivated or swayed by rank, a chain of command, or a supervisory chain of responsibility. These lawyers are often motivated by their next promotion or evaluation report. Military assigned counsel must often operate within restraints on representation by their chain of command. This includes things like limitations on approaching members of the press. On the contrary, a civilian military defense lawyer is motivated by securing the best possible result for the client and they do not face the same kind of restrictions. Defending you is our first and only priority.
When you are appointed a lawyer, you get who you get. No consideration is given to personality, skill specialty, experience, or time. If you decide to hire a civilian military defense lawyer, you personally can choose someone that you and your family are comfortable with. It’s important to have an attorney who will communicate with you throughout the whole process and keep you up to speed. You should have the freedom to choose someone who makes you feel comfortable and included.
If you should decide that hiring a military defense lawyer is the best option for you, contact Military Trial Defenders. Lance and Christopher are experienced military defense lawyers who are passionate about providing the best possible military trial defense services to military members worldwide.