One of the most common questions we get here at Bilecki & Tipon, LLLC is why a military service member would need to hire a civilian court-martial lawyer when they get appointed one for free. In a recent interview, a military defense attorney answered that question. The transcripts from that interview are below.
Why choose a civilian law firm?
Interviewer: Why would a military service member need to hire a civilian lawyer like yourself when they can get a military lawyer for free?
Bilecki: I always tell service members where they are looking at hiring an attorney that you don’t get another shot at the Court Martial. You only get one shot at trial. And this is where experience matters. There are no do-overs. You don’t get give-me on this, and typically, you get what you pay for.
If you’re facing a Court Martial, you need someone who’s going to be fearless, have the moral fortitude, and have the ability to go into the courtroom and absolutely dominate.
Interviewer: You attended law school and began your practice in Miami, Florida. How is it that you built your law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii?
Bilecki: You know, I went to law school in Miami, Florida. I fell in love in doing criminal defense in my first year of Law School when I went to work with Joel Hirschhorn and Brian Bieber, two of my mentors—perhaps, two of the best criminal defense attorneys, literally, in the country.
After doing my time there, I joined the US Army Jag Corps. I spent 8 years essentially traveling the world defending service members who are facing Court Martial charges. I was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, and I was also stationed in Asia. After my time in Asia, I resigned my commission and moved back to Honolulu, Hawaii, and started my practice.
I really love Hawaii. I love the people, and I love the culture. But perhaps, most importantly, it allowed me to defend service members who were stationed there, as well as service members who are stationed in Korea, Okinawa, mainland Japan, and Guam.
It gives me great access to the Pacific. Anyone that’s been stationed in Asia understands that it’s just a bit different. If you’ve been stationed in Korea, if you’re a Marine who’s been stationed in Okinawa, or maybe a Sailor who’s been stationed out of mainland Japan, you understand that the culture and the military are quite a bit different than when you’re stationed CONUS.
You know, I was stationed out there for two years. I understood what it was like to be falsely accused or to defend service members out there. So, after I resigned my commission, I started my practice. I want to dedicate a certain part of my practice to flying back to Asia and representing those service members who were truly in need—and needed the best defense possible.
Why do you focus on Service Members?
Interviewer: Why do you focus your practice in defending military service members?
Bilecki: I spent the last 12 years of my career defending service members. These are young men and women who stood up to fight for their country, but after they were accused of a crime, their country didn’t fight back for them.
Sometimes, I’m often the last line of defense between them and the jail cell. I take a lot of pride in defending service members from Court Martial charges, many of which they didn’t commit.
Interviewer: I know you’re a believer in using a Defense team. So, why is that and why do you use your own investigators?
Bilecki: If you look at a case like the OJ Simpson case, the Casey Anthony trial, what do they have? You typically don’t see one attorney there. You often see two or three attorneys that will go and investigate the case and try the case. I like to assemble a team of the biggest heavy hitters that I can find in order to represent a service member.
I believe that you’re the average of the five people you associate with most—and I’m going to associate with the best attorneys that are out there.
If you have a serious crime and a deck stacked against you, I want to bring in the investigators to investigate the case, to get me all the pieces of the puzzle. If there’s DNA, I want to have the best DNA expert in the country. If there’s an issue regarding alcohol blackouts, I want the best alcohol expert in the country. I want to assemble a Defense team where I’m the Lead and I’m running the team to go in and take the fight with the prosecution and win the case.
Interviewer: With so many military personnel, how do you choose the clients you represent?
Bilecki: I like to take cases where a military attorney, or someone else, has convinced a service member to plead guilty—and I know we can win that type of a case. I like a challenge, and I like to win.
Interviewer: Does hiring a civilian lawyer make you look guilty?
Bilecki: I’d rather look guilty than be found guilty.