Maj. Chantell Higgins, the head of the Marine Corps' Victims' Legal
Counsel program in Japan, is now the subject of an NCIS probe. The allegations
against Maj. Higgins state that she instructed her client, an alleged
victim of sexual assault, to destroy evidence on her phone that could
reflect poorly on her in the ongoing case against her accused attacker.
Marine Corps Times reports, there are few public details about the sexual assault case and
the new NCIS investigation against Maj. Higgins. The Marine Corps'
Victims' Legal Counsel program was created in 2013 to help self-identified
victims of sexual assault get the legal counsel and resources they need
to press charges on a pro bono basis. When called for, Marine Corps attorneys
serving under the program can also go to litigation on behalf of their clients.
There has yet to be a comment from Maj. Higgins or the Marine Corps'
Victims' Legal Counsel program. Maj. Higgins is a 15-year officer
and judge advocate. It is estimated that the investigation into her conduct
will be completed in the coming weeks.
Friction in the Military Legal Community
Marine Corps Times cites one senior military official who believes the
new NCIS investigation will only further tensions between the Marine Corps'
Victims' Legal Counsel program and the rest of the military legal
community. The friction stems from the lack of oversight placed on attorneys
associated with the program, who have become known for pushing for cases
that prosecutors do not recommend and making demands with little or no
"I think judges are uncomfortable with a free radical bouncing around
the courtroom without any rules and regulations," the anonymous military
official told Marine Corps Times. "I think everybody is unsure of
what they're supposed to do."
Last year, Mr. Jordan defeated the rape and sexual assault charges in a
court-martial in Okinawa where Maj. Higgins was the victim's legal
counsel for the alleged victim. Maj. Higgins did not allow Mr. Jordan
to speak to her client (the alleged victim) prior to trial, citing that
the client did not wish to be interviewed. At trial, Mr. Jordan notified
the Military Judge that he was not allowed to speak to the alleged victim
in the case. The Military Judge's solution was to give Mr. Jordan
wide discretion to ask the alleged victim a variety of probing questions
in a closed Article 39a session on the record. Mr. Jordan's questioning
essentially amounted to a formal deposition and ultimately his questioning
helped shape the eventual victory in this court-martial. It does not pay
to obstruct a counsel's ability to have equal access to all witnesses
in a court-Martial. Justice will always be done, whether it is on a particular
legal issue or on the case at large.
If you are facing a military charge and are looking for experienced and
incisive courts-martial representation you can trust, then we invite you
Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law. Attorney Jordan has over a decade of experience in the U.S. Army and
has passionately defended military personnel all over the globe. Start
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