As defense attorneys in court martial proceedings, there may be an assumption that we are always advocating for the defense and against the military justice system as a whole. However, this is not always the case. Our aim is to seek justice within a military justice system that does not always prioritize fairness and equity. For instance, it is unjust when a decorated Sergeant’s career is destroyed by false allegations of sexual misconduct. Similarly, it is not just when an individual with a personal vendetta makes allegations of sexual assault to harm another service member’s career.
However, justice was served in the recent case of a Soldier from Fort Polk who was found guilty of sexually assaulting multiple children and sentenced to 42 years in prison. The Soldier was provided with an adequate defense, which is essential to ensuring justice, and his conviction is a demonstration of the justice system getting it right. Unfortunately, there are still numerous instances of injustice within the military, and as court martial defense attorneys, we will continue to fight for justice.
The Facts Of The Case Were Damning and Disturbing
Private Tyler Davis was convicted pursuant to his pleas of 13 specifications of rape and sexual assault of a child in violation of Article 120b of the UCMJ and one specification of child pornography under Article 134. One of the victims disclosed to a family member that Davis had touched her inappropriately while at his Fort Polk residence. The victim’s sister also reported assaults from Davis that took place between February and April of 2022.
Digital forensic evidence would prove that Davis was in possession of 13 images and three videos involving child pornography and when confronted, Davis himself admitted to a third victim that was previously unknown to law enforcement. Justice demands that Davis pay for his crimes against children and as the title of the article states, this is what getting the campaign to root out sexual misconduct in the military right looks like. Now, let’s talk about what getting wrong looks like and unfortunately, there is more wrong than the military justice system would like to admit.
What The Military Is Getting Wrong In The Campaign Against Sexual Misconduct
In the same manner that we support the pursuit of justice, we support the military’s campaign to root out actual sexual misconduct in the military. We’re not out here to defend every “scumbag,” though it must be noted that our legal system demands that even the most morally reprehsible receive an adequate defense. That’s just how justice in America is reached.
However, the current climate as a result of this campaign is such that allegations are being treated as objective fact and even when there is not enough evidence to bring to trial, military careers are still being ruined as a result of these false allegations. Good men and women are being treated as if they are Private Tyler Davis incarnate and find themselves getting destroyed by the very nation they swore to protect.
In some cases, there may have very well been conduct that was in violation of the UCMJ, but sexual assault was not one of them. When a Staff Sergeant decides to engage in a consensual sexual relationship with a subordinate, he’s in the wrong and will answer to the UCMJ for his conduct. However, he’s not a rapist and we are seeing that fact ignored time and time again.
A Climate Of Fear Is Perpetuated By Congressional Leadership And The Pentagon
In many cases that we see, a young command is under intense pressure to prove that they are taking the campaign to root out sexual assault seriously. This means when they get a case in front of them that even hints at sexual misconduct, commands bring the house against those service members to show they are taking a hard stand. Their innocence be damned, someone has to be sacrificed and an innocent service member is just as good as a guilty one to some commands.
This climate is being driven by Congressional oversight upon the Pentagon who demands results. The Pentagon then applies that pressure on the chain of command and by the time it gets down to the Company level, a Soldier’s off colored remarks about another service members becomes a SHARP or SAPR violation.
You think that we are kidding, but we have seen some of the fiercest warriors our military has broken down in tears when they realized that their life is being destroyed by such a climate. That’s not justice and it fuels our fight on behalf of our clients all the more. That’s why we are not afraid to take on cases involving sexual misconduct when other defense attorney’s won’t touch them. We know what justice looks like and damn it, justice must be served.
Bilecki Won’t Let Good Service Members Become The Sacrificial Lamb
Let’s be clear, Private Tyler Davis was no sacrificial lamb. Davis was a a Soldier who appears to have received his due justice. As for the clients we choose to defend, we will not let our clients become the sacrificial lamb to the Congressional and Pentagon oversight gods. Sexual assault in the military has been a problem, but that’s not our client’s job to solve. Their job is to protect this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Their job is to step into the fray on behalf of a nation that lives under the freedom that they provide. They are not there to be sacrificed so a young command can prove they are taking the issue of sexual assault.
No one signed up for that and that’s why we fight for the best possible outcome in every case we accept. The Staff Sergeant who engaged in inappropriate conduct with a young NCO is going to be in trouble with the UCMJ, but he’s not going to jail for sexual assault. The decorated Sergeant isn’t going to lose his career because his ex-girlfriend who is also a service member just got busted for drugs. That’s not justice and we’re not going to let it happen.
Private Tyler Davis, you are going to jail and it is appears that is where you belong. Yes, defense attorney’s do care about justice. We just believe that justice isn’t owned by the prosecution. Justice can mean restoring the careers of good men and women wrongly prosecuted by a rogue command trying to look tough. Justice means giving every defendant an adequate and staunch defense. The military justice system may have got it right with Private Tyler Davis, but just know that we are here for every time the military justice system gets it wrong. We are here to fight for justice in all its forms and for every service member.