In a rare decision to reverse sexual assault convictions for being factually insufficient, on September 5, 2019, the Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals did just that in its opinion in United States v. Dawkins. With respect to one alleged victim, the court was not personally convinced that sexual activity occurred after she told the client “don’t do it.” The evidence showed that the client and this alleged victim made out only about 5 minutes prior to the alleged “sexual assault,” during which the alleged victim admitted to letting the client kiss her. the Court believed the client had an honest and reasonable mistaken belief the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity up until she voiced her non-consent, at which time, the client ceased the sexual activity.
Regarding the other alleged victim, the NMCCA wasn’t convinced the sexual contact occurred. In light of the testimony that no one who could have witnessed the alleged sexual assault actually witnessed one, a majority of the court was not convinced the alleged sexual assault occurred. One witness’s testimony, in which she claimed to have witnessed the client “smack a female service member’s behind,” was deemed utterly “incredible.”
The court also set aside the sentence, which was a mandatory dismissal from the service. Our client is an officer with more than 28 years of service and a retirement pension worth an estimated $2.8 million. As the firm’s attorney stated, “this decision gives our client a chance to honorably retire and preserve his benefits. It is a tremendous win for our client and I could not be happier for him.”
Air Force Grants Sentencing Relief to Airman for Unlawfully Introduced Victim Impact Statements. In a win for a young airman who pled guilty to possession of child pornography, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with our firm, that the military judge who sentenced him should not have accepted the victim impact statements introduced at trial, and heavily relied upon by the trial counsel during sentencing argument. All the victim impact statements contained high prejudicial information that was irrelevant to the client’s case, and inflammatory language recommending inhumane and unlawful punishments. One letter in particular asked the judge to sentence our client “to be humped to death by a horse and made to get AIDS and die.” The Air Force Court issued a strong opinion condemning the Government’s overreaching by insisting the client stipulate to the admission of these victim impact statements, which were also inconsistent with the decorum and respect due in an Air Force courtroom. The Air Force Court struck the victim impact statements and reassessed the client’s sentence, reducing confinement by six months.
Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. Representing a young Air Force NCO on his court-martial appeal for a poorly done sting operation to lure him in to have sex with an underage girl. Client became eligible for parole and thanks to the support of the NCO’s family and the work of our firm, our client was granted parole on his first look! We will continue to fight for him on appeal.
Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC. Represented a young Coast Guard enlisted man at his parole hearing, he had pled guilty to having sex with a 15-year old girl. The firm secured a letter of support from the victim’s mother and Attorney David Sheldon appeared with the service member’s mother and father at the hearing at the Washington Navy Yard, and our client was granted parole! He will be released in less than a month.
Washington, Navy Yard, Washington, DC. In a general court-martial at the Washington Navy Yard, a sailor is accused of multiple counts of domestic violence against his estranged partner who has suffered from psychotic episodes. After the government denied the Defense requests for two very well qualified forensic mental health experts, a military judge granted the Defense Motion to Compel Mental Health Experts.
The defense trial team now includes an expert in SANE examinations, Dr. Susan Rotolo, a board certified forensic psychologist, Anita L. Boss, PSY.D., ABPP, and Michael B. Knable, MD, a board certified forensic psychiatrist. This sailor is getting the best- qualified defense team available to service members in the United States.
The military judge also ordered the government to produce mental health records of the prosecutrix as well as documents related to other instances where the prosecutrix had made allegations against others, her criminal history, and e mails between NCIS and the SJA’s office.
Mr. Sheldon represented an Air Force doctor in two court-martials, an appeal, and a hearing regarding the revocation of his hospital privileges. In every instance, through Mr. Sheldon’s counsel, the officer was exonerated. The most recent decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is Here.
A physician who serves on active duty in the Air Force was acquitted of a charge of wrongful use of marijuana in a contested court-martial at Travis Air Force base, California. Mr. Sheldon continues to fight for the complete exoneration of the doctor now challenging his promotion removal.
A soldier Mr. Sheldon represents was facing a gang rape allegation at a general court-martial. Through Mr. Sheldon’s efforts the charges were dropped in their entirety, the soldier is not required to testify against any of his co-accused, but will face nonjudicial punishment for two minor offenses.
Mr. Sheldon won a complete victory for Hospitalman Dustin Clark, USN. The service member had been convicted of rape and aggravated sexual assault and was serving a seven-year sentence. Mr. Sheldon appealed his case, and the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals reversed his conviction on all counts and ordered the charges dismissed with prejudice. Mr. Sheldon remains committed to ensuring that Hospitalman Clark’s rights are protected as he resumes his honorable service to the United States Navy. See the report here.
At an Article 32 hearing at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, Mr. Sheldon vigorously defended a Staff Sergeant accused of sexually assaulting/raping a subordinate. The Commanding General dismissed all of the charges and specifications against the Airman.
An Air Force Captain facing multiple charges at an Article 32 hearing, including assault with a deadly weapon upon a superior commissioned officer. Mr. Sheldon successfully advocated for the Air Force to dismiss the charges and the officer is being medically retired from the service.
Mr. Sheldon litigated a contested sexual assault case at the Washington Navy Yard. After a week long trial before officer members, the accused, a Lieutenant Commander with 17 years of service, was found Not Guilty of all charges and specifications.
Mr. Sheldon represented a Marine Lieutenant Colonel facing an Article 32 hearing for False Official Statements, Conduct Unbecoming and dereliction of duty. Through Mr. Sheldon’s efforts the case was resolved at nonjudicial punishment and the officer was retired honorably.
Mr. Sheldon represented a midshipman accused of 10 counts of arson at the United States Naval Academy. Because of zealous representation by Mr. Sheldon and the midshipman’s military attorneys, the Navy dropped all charges against the midshipman and he received a General (under honorable conditions) discharge characterization
Mr. Sheldon negotiated a plea of guilty for a Coast Guard member who was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice. After extended negotiations, the member received only a sentence of 15 days confinement after and was discharged with a General under Honorable Conditions as a result of the pretrial agreement Mr. Sheldon secured.
Mr. Sheldon was able to get the Army officer placed on the Permanent Disability Retired List at 30%, thereby guaranteeing him health care and benefits for the rest of his life. The officer had been previously convicted of involuntary manslaughter due to the officer’s intoxication. Nonetheless, because of Mr. Sheldon’s efforts the officer will receive an Honorable discharge and will permanently receive all benefits.
Mr. Sheldon represented a Marine at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia who was accused of an extensive history of domestic violence and with driving under the influence of alcohol. Through Mr. Sheldon’s efforts, the Marine was separated with a General Under Honorable discharge, thereby guaranteeing the Marine would receive his VA benefits.
Mr. Sheldon obtained an acquittal for a Marine accused of indecent acts and assault at Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
Mr. Sheldon obtained a complete acquittal of a Marine at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The Marine had been charged with assault and fraternization.
Mr. Sheldon represented a staff sergeant (select) who was accused of fraternization and indecent assault. After a contested trial before officer and enlisted members the Marine was acquitted of all charges and promoted to staff sergeant.
The Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, set aside the findings and sentence of a Marine Sergeant wrongfully accused of rape. The Marine is scheduled to be promoted to Gunnery Sergeant.
Through Mr. Sheldon’s efforts, an Army Specialist at Fort Dix, New Jersey received non judicial punishment for possessing child pornography after charges were dismissed prior to the Article 32 hearing.
Through Mr. Sheldon’s advocacy, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Texas Death penalty case in a strong rebuke, finding that the death row inmate’s constitutional rights had been violated. Hall v. Quarterman, link to decision, which is attached. This is Mr. Sheldon’s second consecutive win for Texas death row inmates.
At Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia, Mr. Sheldon obtained an acquittal for a Marine facing two charges, aggravated assault on a NCOIC and disrespect of the same.
Mr. Sheldon successfully defended a Navy Chaplain convicted of forcible sodomy and aggravated assault (having unprotected sex with another male without disclosing his HIV status). The Navy Chaplain was sentenced to 12 years in the brig, but Mr. Sheldon had negotiated a plea agreement that capped confinement at 24 months.
At a general court-martial before officer and enlisted members at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Mr. Sheldon obtained the acquittal of a soldier who was charged with attempted rape and assault with intent to commit rape.
After two Article 32 hearings at Camp Pendleton, California, charges against a Marine Corps 1LT were withdrawn and the matter referred to NJP based upon Mr. Sheldon’s defense. The allegations centered on events of Marines accused of misconduct which allegedly occurred at Hamdaniya, Iraq.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces reversed a murder conviction for a soldier who Mr. Sheldon represented on appeal. The Court set aside the findings and sentence and ordered a rehearing.
The Air Force dismissed a rape charge against an Air Force Captain who Mr. Sheldon represented. The allegations stemmed from the Air Force Academy Rape Scandal. The landmark case was first abated by the trial judge because the therapist of the alleged victim refused to release counseling records. The Air Force action terminated all proceedings against the officer. (News Article: Military Drops Charge vs. Air Force Grad).
The Army Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the finding and sentence of PFC Rios who Mr. Sheldon represented on appeal. PFC Rios had been convicted of unpremeditated murder. The Court found that the military judge had improperly instructed the members of the court-martial panel, and so overturned the conviction and sentence.
After a rehearing at the trial level, Mr. Rios was released from confinement to join his family.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces reversed a murder conviction for a sailor Mr. Sheldon had represented on appeal. The Court set aside the findings and sentence and ordered a rehearing.
Mr. Sheldon won a verdict of not guilty at a general court-martial before a panel of offices and enlisted members for a Navy Chief Petty Officer in Naples, Italy, charged with having indecent acts with a 12-year-old girl.
Mr. Sheldon a verdict of not guilty at a general court martial for a Staff Sergeant at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia, on two contested charges of attempted rape and indecent assault.
The firm negotiated a reduced jail sentence down from 22 years to 6 years, with only 5 years actually served for a soldier at Fort Benning, Georgia, who was convicted of having unprotected sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was HIV positive.
The firm successfully represented an Air Force officer who was alleged to have committed a rape at the Academy. Charges were abated because the alleged victim’s therapist refused to turn over counseling records.
The Law Offices of David P. Sheldon represented an Army Sergeant in Korea accused of participating in a gang rape; charges were dismissed against our client while the co-accused received a 30-year sentence to confinement.
The firm successfully represented a Navy commander allowing him to retire from the Navy after pleading guilty to a Mann Act charge (crossing state lines to have sex with a minor) in federal court.