[This is follow-up to a matter discussed in a 31 March Blog Posting discussing pending matters. The case was favorably resolved for Client last month on 19 April 2017 with an Administrative Discharge and final release from active duty (REFRAD)]
AWOL Case Study
Matter: AWOL, Returning to Military Control after an Extended Absence of 14 Years
Summary: This case involved the safe and successful return of our Client to military control from an AWOL status, and his subsequent administrative (vice court-martial) discharge from the service.
Our client went AWOL from Ft. Hood, Texas in 2002 when he was 21 years old. He listened to a barracks lawyer at some point before he left who told him that if he returned in less than 30 days he would be ok. He returned to post after 28 days believing his unit would simply discharge him administratively at that time. They didn’t. Instead, he was assigned extra duties, and life became extremely challenging. After about 10 days of what the client felt was unjustified and abusive treatment, he again went AWOL, returned home, and began looking over his shoulder figuratively – and sometimes literally — for the next fourteen years.
He married, worked hard, went to school and graduated with honors in accounting, and began the process of obtaining his CPA license. Additionally, he was a non-citizen, green card holder. He knew that U.S. citizenship and professional licensure were likely out of the question so long as his AWOL status remained unresolved. But, he was afraid that if he returned to military control he would be prosecuted, convicted and likely jailed, and that everything he had worked for and accomplished in the fourteen years since he left Ft. Hood that second time would be lost. He also worried about the possibility of deportation. Finally, his wife, realizing that something had to be done, urged him to face reality and take care of his business.
He called our office and I spoke with him at length about what needed to be done. I also helped him understand what the process would likely entail, what the various outcomes could be, and how long things would take to resolve.
After extensive coordination with the client, his family and with the client’s parent unit and that unit’s servicing Judge Advocates, together with a careful plan to address each step of the return process, and with some realistic and high-minded help from various sources, we were able to avoid a court-martial and near certain felony conviction for this client.
Result: While the client’s command chain recommended a court-martial, the General Officer convening authority — on the advice and counsel of his SJA, and that SJA’s senior Trial Counsel — ordered our Client discharged administratively.
Highlights: Seeing a deserving, intelligent but very nervous man courageously face the consequences of his long ago actions, and in the process successfully become free and clear of his, “unfinished business” with the Army.
Finally, I have to credit the major installation Senior Trail Counsel, her Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) and his boss, the acting Commanding General (CG) who made the final decision not to prosecute my client under the UCMJ for his long ago transgressions, over and against chain-of-command recommendations to the contrary. That decision will resonate with my client, his family and their fortunes for the rest of their lives. Many thanks, therefore, are due to everyone involved in this one. I am extremely grateful indeed.
References: Please call us at 214-363-1828 or email us at email@example.com for further details and contact/referral information for the client. Client’s Testimonial appears below.
Client’s Testimonial: “Words cannot express how good of a lawyer Bill Meili is. I had an AWOL case hanging over my head for 14 years. Before I contacted Bill, I called multiple lawyers to handle the case. It seemed most of them just wanted to prove that it was a complicated situation so they could take a huge amount of money from me. Bill, on the other hand, was very caring and actually wanted to solve my problem before even talking about money. Bill did an amazing job! He handled all issues and the necessary defense paperwork and briefs, traveled numerous times to Fort Sill and Fort Hood, Texas, and overall made sure I was safe and that my case was being properly handled by the government. Without a doubt Bill is not only committed and dedicated to his work, he is an honest, caring and a loving person. His experience and knowledge got me out of the Army with an administrative discharge. There were other similar cases to mine on the base which ended up with jail time for those soldiers. I was so glad that I had Bill Meili on my side to take care of me. I am sure if it was not for Bill, I would have had the same results as others and ended up with a federal conviction. I recommend anyone and everyone who needs any assistance — no matter how tough the situation is — call Bill Meili without any hesitation. You will appreciate it and will have no regret in your life.”
Client wishes to remain anonymous
Looking back over the month — it would appear that we’ve been fairly busy — to wit:
3 Feb: Submitted a Show Cause – Board of Inquiry rebuttal/response for a senior reserve Army officer;
9 Feb: Submitted a request for reconsideration appeal to the Department of the Army Suitability Evaluation Board (DASEB) for a company grade active duty Army officer;
17 Feb: Delivered a request for reconsideration on an Unqualified Resignation (UQR) action for a senior active duty Warrant officer;
20 Feb: Submitted an appeal to transfer a General Officer Reprimand (GOMOR) to DASEB for a field grade Army Reserve officer;
22 Feb: Coordinated a diversion program track for a civilian juvenile client facing a felony aggravated sexual assault charge;
23 Feb: Began a coordinated, managed defense for an AWOL return to military control matter;
27 Feb: Heard that the client’s command chain in the 3 Feb matter above recommends favorable action on our requested relief, and;
28 Feb: Received word that the government/military command would not be preferring UCMJ charges against an active duty enlisted client.
Grateful for the opportunities presented along the way, and for the help and support of many, without which none of the above would have been possible. Stay tuned. v/r Bill
Phone: 214 363-1828
We received some good news from the Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA) a day or so ago. The decision came in from the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) panel we argued the case before last month in D.C. The five, active duty colonels voted unanimously to grant our client relief. This was long in coming, but extremely gratifying on many levels …. and not a bad way to kick off the New Year! This was also a first of its kind case for our practice. Our client was a former active duty Army recruit in basic training, who was administratively separated for medical reasons, within the first six months of his enlistment. His discharge certificate (DD214) read “Uncharacterized,” and this has been causing him significant problems with potential employers over the past several years.
His service though had been exemplary in the short time he was in, and he was cited for meritorious conduct before his discharge. We argued that and asked that his DD214 be changed to an Honorable characterization of service, which is almost never done with entry level separations. But, this officer panel agreed with us, and voted accordingly, upgrading the discharge and changing both the narrative reason for separation and the RE Code.
If you care to know more about this case, I’d be happy to discuss it in more detail.
Office: 214 363-1828 or 866 578-0164; Cell: 214 536-3888
v/r Bill Meili
November 30, 2016
We had a nice result rendered in a Grand Jury proceeding a while back. The charge was Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Family Violence. The client’s charge was No-Billed … and in thinking about this work, I thought it might be helpful to draft out the following:
Six Points Everyone Needs to Know About Criminal Grand Jury Proceedings:
1. All adult felony charges must first be reviewed by a grand jury before further prosecution takes place, and …some juvenile felony charges will be reviewed by a grand jury;
2. In most jurisdictions around the country, grand jury procedure allows the person charged to present a written case to the grand jury for its consideration before the vote to indict or no-bill. And in many jurisdictions, the grand jury wants to hear from the accused;
3. The single most important thing you can do to help a grand jury make the right decision is to retain experienced legal counsel immediately.
4. Presenting your case, with the help and guidance of an attorney experienced in Grand Jury practice and procedure, can pay huge dividends.
5. Grand Jurors, almost universally, want to do the “right thing” in any given case. By having your attorney properly present your side of the case, you help the Grand Jury reach the right decision….which ultimately helps you immeasurably.
6. A Grand Jury No-Bill (a vote not to indict) often leads to a successful expunction of all records of the arrest and charge.
I’m a former Dallas County Grand Jury prosecutor, and so learned how to do this work from the inside years ago. Given some great mentors, and the perspective afforded there — and now, with the added perspective of more than twenty-four years in private practice — I don’t think there’s a better way to win a client’s freedom — or save and protect a future and clear (expunge) his or her record, than to present the matter properly to a Grand Jury.
Please call, and we can discuss your case in greater detail.
Bill Meili, Attorney and Counselor at Law – Criminal Defense and Military Law. 214 363-1828 or info@MeiliLaw.com
Good news shared is good news doubled. Great call just now with a combat aviator I’ve been partnering with last month or so. Big Army removed, effective today, an additional ADSO he’d been carrying, (GI Bill benefit transfer). This now clears the way for a deletion of PCS orders and acceptance of his Unqualified Resignation (UQR). So, he’ll be able to ETS on time and in the geographical area where his family resides. Quad Fecta !!!! Love it when things come together like this.
If you, or someone you love, needs help with any or all of the above, give us a call. Thanks.
In light of changing times and administrations, here’s a blog post I drafted about 5 years ago. The info still holds. If you’re in the IRR and past your 8 year statutory obligation — (your MSO) — you might want to check your current status. I can help with that. Also, if you know someone in the Army nearing his or her MSO, please feel free to pass this on. Thanks. v/r, Bill
Many times, getting an early jump on potential security clearance disqualifiers and issues broadly can have a profound effect on the course of a case. This week, I was happy to learn that a former client who did just that — coming in early for a comprehensive consultation — has kept his top secret clearance and is looking forward to an SCI grant later this year. His description and experience in seeking and obtaining professional counsel with our firm follows:
INDUSTRIAL SECURITY CLEARANCE DEFENSE TESTIMONY
Industrial Security Clearance Defense Testimony
I’m an independent contractor consultant with clients in the Department of Defense, as well as the Intelligence Community. I have a TS clearance, and was mid-process for my SCI when I had a DUI. It was a first-time offense, and the charges were ultimately dismissed and my record expunged, but, needless to say, I was extremely concerned about the potential impact to my security clearances.
Bill came highly recommended by a close, mutual friend who is also a retired U.S. Army Colonel.
I called Bill, left a message, and he immediately returned my call. I explained my situation, and Bill took the time to understand all the details and intricacies of my situation, including the details of the DUI arrest, and the legal strategy I was pursuing with my DUI attorney.
Most of all, Bill put my mind at ease by explaining how he could help me rise above this single, unfortunate incident, and present a “whole person” view of myself that would make it clear that I’m a person of high-integrity, who is deserving of the highest-level security clearance.
I met with Bill in-person at his office, and we had numerous telephonic meetings as well. He assisted me with the completion of the SF-86 form, coached me on answering questions that might be posed by the background investigator, as well as giving me indispensable advice on my upcoming polygraph.
Bill stands apart from other attorneys in several important ways. First, it was immediately obvious that his concern for his clients is sincere, and that he deeply cared about me as an individual. Second, his style is that of a mentor and coach; he always helped me to “see the big picture,” and helped me develop the tools and approach to win the end-game. And finally, I consider him a friend, and while I hope to never have a brush with the legal system again, I look forward to remaining in touch with him going forward.
An update on my current clearance status: My TS is active, and at no risk. I passed my polygraph and my SCI is in-process. As a contractor who primarily works remotely, I am rather low on the adjudication priority list relative to a government employee who works in a secure facility every day, but I am confident that my SCI will be granted.
To sum up: Engaging early with Bill made all the difference for me. I highly recommend William Meili & Associates, without reservation, for anyone who has serious issues – or even just questions or concerns – about their current or pending security clearance.
— Client wishes to remain anonymous