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 (866) 971-4355 today.