A recent press release issued by the White House has announced that President Trump has given clemency to two military service members and a rank restoration to another. Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn were each given an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for their unrelated military criminal cases. Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher has been repromoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
President Trump justified his decision to show favor to the three men, who were all in different stages of military criminal cases filed against them, by saying he wanted to give our nation’s service members “the confidence to fight.” All three service members were accused of wrongfully murdering suspected combatants overseas, among other violations. The President’s words argue it is better for a military service member in active duty and an active warzone to feel safe in using their best judgment in a time of conflict, rather than hesitating due to potential legal consequences in the future.
DETAILS OF FIRST LIEUTENANT LORANCE’S CASE
Army First Lieutenant Lorance was commanding a platoon in Afghanistan when a motorcycle approached them unannounced and at an “unusual pace.” Believing the three men riding the motorcycle intended to harm his troops, Lorance ordered his men to shoot and kill the riders before they got too close. Two of the riders died from the resulting gunfire.
Lorance was charged for the incident after no clear evidence of wrongdoing or aggression on behalf of the motorcycle riders was found. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 19 years imprisonment. After serving six years of his sentence, President Trump’s full pardon has led to his early release.
DETAILS OF MAJOR GOLSTEYN’S CASE
Army Major Golsteyn was tasked with questioning a suspected Taliban bombmaker after an improvised explosive device (IED) killed two Marines. The suspect was detained with the help of a local Afghan informant U.S. Armed Forces had come to trust implicitly for reliable intel. Interrogations proved unsuccessful, though, and the suspect was meant to be released. Instead, Golsteyn killed the suspect after determining he would certainly return to building bombs for the Taliban for use against the U.S. and allied forces in the area.
Golsteyn was charged with unlawfully killing the suspect and a trial date was set. However, the details of the case caused investigations and inquiries to become drawn out, and Golsteyn was still not tried after several years. The President’s full pardon has effectively halted trial actions against Golsteyn.
DETAILS OF CHIEF GALLAGHER’S CASE
Chief Gallagher was accused of a variety of war crimes, including the slaying of a captured prisoner and posing for pictures with the man’s body afterward. In previous blog entries, we discussed how Gallagher was acquitted of most charges against him after evidence suggested the prosecution had tried to spy on the defense with bugged emails. Due to the charges being filed in the first place, though, Gallagher had been blocked from a planned promotion to Senior Chief, lost his Bronze Star for Valor, and lost the chance to become a Navy instructor.
With President Trump’s intervention, Gallagher has since been promoted to Chief Petty Officer. The White House press release did not mention the return of his Bronze Star or if he would be offered a Navy instructor position again.
ALWAYS STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS WHEN CRIMINALLY ACCUSED
If there is a single thing you should take from the news of President Trump’s decisions to show leniency to these three service members, it is that you should not give up hope when you are accused of criminal violations or facing a military court-martial. There is always the chance your case could catch the attention of others higher up the Chain of Command, right up to the Commander-in-Chief.
However, it is best to plan your defense on the ground level first. Do not hesitate to stick up for yourself and demand a chance to protect your rights, reputation, rank, and future. Start by calling (866) 266-9381 and connecting with Military Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph L. Jordan. For years, Attorney Jordan has been representing members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been accused of some of the most serious military crimes, such as rape, murder, and obstruction of justice. As a former Army JAG officer and prosecutor, he knows what it takes to defend you.
Our law office represents military service members posted at bases around the globe. Fill out an online contact form today.