Last July, Lt. Col. Joshua Kastenberg ruled that the dismissed sexual assault
charges against 1st Class Brandon T. Wright had been exposed to "unlawful
command influence" in Italy, but that the case should still see a
stateside court-martial. Now, Wright's defense counsel is arguing
that the initial dismissal in favor of their client should stand.
The tangled story of the case against Wright begins in with an incident
in July 2012, which resulted in sexual assault allegations against Wright
the following year. Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin dismissed those allegations
after an Article 32 Hearing at Aviano Air Base in Italy when it was concluded
that there was not enough evidence to warrant a court-martial. Following
that decision, Lt. Gen. Richard Harding recommended a transfer and re-evaluation
of the case in the U.S.
It was later ruled that Harding, now a retired judge advocate general,
ordered the unlikely transfer because of his concerns over congressional
momentum for military justice reform concerning sexual assault cases.
In particular, it is suspected that Harding-- a vocal advocate of military
sexual assault victim advocate-- didn't want Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
to land the votes she needed to insert independent prosecutors into the
military justice system. Harding has since denied ordering the transfer
for those reasons.
A Call to Uphold the Dismissal
As Air Force Times reports, Wright's court-martial is now being held
at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and his defense counsel is already calling
for another dismissal in light of the initial findings in 2013. "Article
34 of the Uniform Code of Military Code of Military Justice – a
federal statute, of course – says that a charge cannot go forward
unless warranted by the evidence," said Maj. Jacob Ramer, one of
Wright's lawyers. "When a staff judge advocate tells a commander
that the evidence is not sufficient to move forward with trial, then a
commander’s hands are in effect tied."
It is unclear how Wright's court-martial will proceed given its complex
history. One thing is certain, however: that many concerned with the well-documented
prevalence of cronyism in the military ranks concerning trying sexual
offenses will be closely monitoring Wright's case in the coming weeks.
If you are a military member who has been accused of a sexual offense,
ensure that your rights are looked after and call
Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law today. Attorney Jordan has traveled to the globe to defend clients assigned
to nearly every branch of the U.S. military and has built his reputation
on securing favorable results on their behalf. With more than a decade's
worth of personal experience in the U.S. Army, he is well-versed in military
procedure and culture and knows how to navigate both the negotiation table
and courtroom in the best interests of his clients.
Start mounting a defense you can trust with a free consultation. Call us
at 888.616.6177 today.