If you are a member of the military being investigated or charged with a crime, it is always best to hire a qualified attorney who can help protect your rights. Having a solid and dependable military defense attorney is crucial, especially if it is your first time navigating through the complexities of the law.
A review of the Bergdahl case
The military case of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who was caught and imprisoned by the Taliban for five years after deliberately walking away from his base in Afghanistan, has once again garnered much attention from the media -- stirring up heavy debate among the courts and the public.
There were several speculations about the sergeant and his whereabouts. Many thought he abandoned his unit so that he could collude with the Taliban, while others argued that he was looking for a way to seek attention from higher ups in hopes of changing the tide of their war efforts. No one could know for certain until 2014, when U.S. President Barack Obama made a controversial and risky decision to exchange five Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Bergdahl's safe return and freedom.
This case is an example of how a strong defense team can work hard, examining every angle to ensure that their client receives a fair trial. Even though the Army initially recommended Bergdahl's case to a lower-level tribune, which would mean no jail time for the soldier, this notion was later rejected by Gen. Robert Abrams, the head of the U.S. Army Forces command. Abrams sent Bergdahl's case to a felony-level trial; in other words, a general court martial, where he could face up to a lifetime prison sentence for charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
A new challenge from his defense team
However, Bergdahl's lawyers are now challenging the overall basis of his upcoming trial. They are disputing several important aspects surrounding the trial, including Abrams' attachment to the case, the impact of negative comments made by John McCain, Arizona's Republican Senator and head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Abrams' destruction of about one hundred letters concerning Bergdahl's case.
Since John McCain's unique position gives him authority to approve the assignments of top military officials, Bergdahl's legal team questioned the influence that he had over Gen. Abrams' objectivity. In October 2015, McCain publicly stated that if Bergdahl did not receive a punishment for his actions, Senate hearings would be held as a consequence. Weeks after this announcement, Abrams decided to send the high profile lawsuit to a felony-level court, where Bergdahl would be on trial as a criminal, despite recommendations that the trial should take place in a lower-level tribune.
In recent event, as a result of Bergdahl's lawyers' persistent appeals, Army Col. Jefferey Nance, the military judge assigned to this case at Fort Bragg, ruled that Abrams must testify and explain why one hundred letters from both critics and supporters were ordered for incineration. Note that it is extremely unusual for a four star general to testify in a general court martial.
Defense team doing its job by looking at every angle
The defense is now asking the Fort Bragg Judge to rule that McCain's negative comments improperly influenced the fairness of Bergdahl's case, motioning to remove Abrams from the trial altogether due to his close involvement and possible bias. If their requests are met, the case would restart, and another high-level commander would decide whether a court-martial is necessary.
Bergdahl's trial, which was originally set for this month, has been delayed until February 2017 because of the amount of uncertainty and the legal strategies surrounding the case. Although this lawsuit is still ongoing, it shows that Bergdahl's legal team is taking great steps so that he receives a fair trial.
Other developments in the Bergdahl case
In other news associated with the case, Mark Boal, a screenwriter and journalist, battles with the U.S. federal government over unreleased interview footage of Bergdahl detailing his experiences after deserting his post. The writer of Oscar-winning movies such as "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Hurt Locker" spent many hours interviewing Bergdahl after he returned from Afghanistan. Army prosecutors want the footage, but Boal is using the First Amendment to protect his rights as a reporter. Boal has the backing of 36 major news organizations.
For more information about how hiring a military defense attorney can save you from injustice and jail time, contact us.