Nonjudicial Punishment Representation and Appeals
Art 15s are death to an officer’s or senior NCO’s career. Since the standard of proof for an Art 15 is not clear under the UCMJ, commanders sometimes take actions without appropriate or sufficient proof. If this has happened to you, I can help. Just because you have been “offered” Art 15 non-judicial punishment doesn’t mean you are guilty of anything. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice even accepting an Art 15 doesn’t mean you are guilty of anything. What it means is you have chosen to have your commander hear your side of the story and then decide if you are guilty of the charged offense and if so what an appropriate punishment should be. You always have the choice of turning down the offer of an Art 15 and demanding your right to have a trial by Court-Martial. I rarely recommend turning down an Art 15 because in almost all cases I have seen you will be charged with more offenses at your Court-Martial than what was originally on the Art 15 charge sheet. Even if you are found guilty by your commander you have appeal rights. This is where a good, savvy defense counsel can be the most helpful. The appeal of an Art 15 goes to the next level of command. The appeal must be aware of the relationship between your respective commanders while still forcefully and respectfully making the argument that your immediate commander made a mistake. I have litigated Art 15s for personnel in all grades up to and including Colonel (0-6). I have successful won Art 15 actions, had numerous Art 15s dropped, and successfully had punishments reduced upon appeal. Competent, aggressive Art 15 representation is crucial to saving a career threatened by Art 15 action.