In 2012, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson and his wife hosted a small party at their home. According to a guest of the party who was stranded without a ride home, Wilkerson sexually assaulted her and kicked her out of the house at around 3 in the morning. A few months later, the judge advocate general, or JAG, requested a high-profile lawyer that had prosecuted more sexual-assault courts-martial than any other in the Air Force. After 3 ½ hours of deliberations, the jury found Wilkerson guilty and sentenced him to a dishonorable discharge and a year in prison.
On a jury, in civilian court, you’ll get 12 people from your community, who are going to be your peers and who are not essentially “tainted.” In the military, the jury is chosen by the convening authority, oftentimes the commanding general. And many times, when it comes to a sexual assault case, the people being picked are sexual assault victim advocates, sexual assault response coordinators; and 30-40% of the jury ends up being women. Military juries are being stacked against the accused in order for the military to get convictions.
While some say that the UCMJ (or the military justice system) is anti-victim, it is, in fact, anti-accused, as is evidenced by many sexual assault cases in the past few years. In addition, you only need 2/3 to convict in military court, while in civilian court, you need to get 12 jurors to unanimously agree to convict, giving the accused a disadvantage from the start.
Facing serious criminal charges in the military justice system may seem unwinnable at times, but all you need is the right team. At Bilecki Law Group, our military criminal defense attorneys are prepared to defend fellow service members against an abusive military system, and get you the results you want and need.