Chris: My name is Christopher Cazares. I am a military defense attorney. I represent members of the military accused of criminal behavior, worldwide, which are crimes against the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I travel all over the world in order to defend these members of the military.
Interviewer: How long have you been practicing?
Chris: I have been in practice for over eight years.
Attorney Cazares Is an Active Duty Judge Advocate General and Has Handled Cases at Guantanamo Bay
Interviewer: This is kind of an unusual area of legal work to be in. What made you want to work in this area of the law? Were you formerly a member of the military?
Chris: I’m a former Air Force member and am an active duty JAG. I have been a prosecutor and a defense counsel. I’ve worked at the military commission as a defense counsel, defending Guantánamo Bay inmates.
I’ve also served as a senior trial counsel. In this role I am tasked to travel across the globe to prosecute the most high profile cases in the Air Force.
Interviewer: You’ve represented inmates in Guantánamo Bay?
Chris: Yes. At one time, I was assigned to A al-Mashari, the USS Cole bomber. I also served as a defense counsel for another individual for a short amount of time. His name is Obadula. I spent about a year at the military commissions before I moved on to be a senior trial counsel.
What Is the Role of a Judge Advocate General (JAG)?
Interviewer: Can you explain what a JAG counsel is?
Chris: Each armed service or military service has a JAG corps, which stands for Judge Advocate General. Each individual corps is tasked with providing legal advice to the command and, in doing that, they’re also charged with the responsibility of the court-martial or UCMJ process. UCMJ stands for the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
All Military Personnel Are Under the Jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice
Interviewer: When you’re in the military, you’re under the UCMJ, as are all military personnel, is that right?
Chris: That’s correct.
Younger Members of the Military Are More Likely to Exhibit Criminal Behavior
Interviewer: I imagine that it is perceived that people in the military are far more disciplined than regular civilians. However, do they get into trouble quite often? Do they get into criminal trouble?
Chris: Statistics show that military members are simply a microcosm of society. The criminal rate is not as prevalent as out in the civilian world, but you will still see what is considered criminal behavior.
Essentially, although there is the introduction and enforcement of discipline that is a daily part of each member’s life, that doesn’t take away natural human instincts.
Unchecked, natural human instincts, which can lead to criminal behavior is most commonly occurs among the young service members between the ages of 18 and 34. This demographic represents the highest rate of criminal behavior across the board.