Article 32 Investigations
After preferral of the charges, a convening authority typically sends serious cases to an Article 32 Investigation. No case can proceed to a general court-martial unless the command first conducts an Article 32 Investigation.
The Article 32 is a crucially important proceeding. It is an extensive evidentiary hearing conducted before a single investigating officer, typically a judge advocate. The prosecution is required to show “probable cause” to support the charges, and the defense has the opportunity to question and cross-examine government witnesses and other relevant witnesses to the case.
There are important defense goals executed by your military lawyer at the Article 32 investigation. First, in certain cases, an effective defense effort at the Article 32 Investigation can convince the convening authority not to send the case to the felony-level general court-martial and instead resolve the matter at a lower forum or even dismiss the charges. Second, and more commonly, the Article 32 Investigation is used to lay the foundation for a successful defense at trial. The hearing helps to lay the foundation for the motions practice and is also used to place government witnesses on the record. This is similar to the use of depositions in civil law suits.
Too often, inexperienced active duty military lawyers do not understand the importance of the Article 32 Investigation or how it can be used to advance the defense case. Together, Jeff Meeks and Bruce White offer nearly 50 years experience successfully litigating Article 32 Investigations and general courts-martial. If you are facing a serious military case that is slated for an Article 32 Investigation as a prelude to a general court-martial, you need talented and experience military attorneys on your side. White & Meeks will aggressively defend your rights in this forum.