[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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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