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Blogs from November, 2020

  • General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand (GOMORs) are among the most abused mechanisms in the Army’s reprimand process and, once filed, can have devastating consequences on a service member’s military career. If you have received a GOMOR or other adverse written reprimand, contact one of our military defense lawyers today to learn more about your rights.


    The Army has come under increased scrutiny in recent years due to abuses by commanders in its reprimand process. Among the most abused mechanisms is the Army’s notorious General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR). GOMORs are the Army’s way of punishing Soldiers when there is not enough evidence to support Article 15 punishment or court-martial. Once filed, a GOMOR can have career-ending consequences for a Soldier.


    AR 600-37, Unfavorable Information, sets forth the Army’s policies and procedures on when unfavorable information can be placed in, transferred within, or removed from a Soldier’s Army Military Human Resource Record (AMHRR). The regulation directs commanders to “take appropriate action(s) with reference to unfavorable information concerning members of their commands.” Authority to issue and direct the filing of a GOMOR is typically restricted to general officers and school commandants.

    While AR 600-37 provides the authority to issue a GOMOR, the regulation fails to provide any standard of proof which must be met before a Soldier can receive an administrative reprimand. As a result, Soldiers routinely receive GOMORs based on weak evidence or substantiated allegations which later prove untrue.


    Service members have an absolute right to submit evidence that rebuts, explains, or mitigates unfavorable information. AR 600-37, paragraph 3-2, affords service members two important due process rights in rebutting a GOMOR.

    First, the recipient of a GOMOR is entitled to the “opportunity to review the documentation that serves as the basis for the proposed filing.” The documentation should be largely unredacted to enable the Soldier to meaningfully rebut the allegations.

    Second, the Soldier is entitled to a “reasonable amount of time to make a written statement in response.” Active duty Soldiers are usually provided 7 calendar days to respond, while Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers receive 30 calendar days. Commanders will typically grant reasonable requests for extension of time beyond these deadlines.

    A written statement in response can be prepared by the service member or their attorney. When drafting a rebuttal, it’s important to consider both the content of the response and whether providing evidence in support would be helpful or harmful. Soldiers are often told simply to accept responsibility in their GOMOR response and beg that the reprimand be filed locally. However, any admission of guilt can later be used against a Soldier at Article 15 punishment, court-martial, chapter board, or any other administrative or criminal proceeding.

    The decision of what approach to take in a GOMOR rebuttal is highly fact specific and should be made in consultation with an attorney.


    Commanders issuing GOMORs have only two filing options: permanent filing in the performance portion of the AMHRR or local filing.

    Permanent. Regardless of the issuing authority, a GOMOR may be filed in a Soldier’s AMHRR only upon the order of a General Officer. The General Officer must be senior to the recipient or given direction from an officer having general court-martial jurisdiction over the Soldier. GOMORs filed in a Soldier’s AMHRR will be filed in the performance folder. Unfavorable information should only be included in the performance portion of the AMHRR “after considering the circumstances and alternative non-punitive measures.” One placed in the AMHRR, a GOMOR will be permanently filed unless removed through the appeal process.

    Local. The second option is to file the GOMOR locally. A local filing may only be filed for up to 18 months, or until the Soldier is reassigned to another general court-martial jurisdiction, whichever is sooner. A locally filed memorandum should state the length of time the letter is to remain in the local file and provide a point of contact for the Soldier after the expiration date to ensure removal. The Soldier and the unit are equally responsible for removing the letter from the local file after 18 months.

    Anonymous communications cannot be filed in a Soldier’s AMHRR or filed locally.


    Receipt of a GOMOR can have significant adverse consequences. Soldiers flagged as a result of unfavorable information are unable to PCS or promote and are typically viewed as guilty until proven innocent by their chain-of-command and fellow service members.

    Issuance of a GOMOR may also trigger a variety of administrative reviews like the Qualitative Management Program (QMP), Promotion Review Board (PRB), and Standby Advisory Board (STAB), to name a few. Unfavorable information which casts doubt on the suitability of a Soldier to hold a security clearance may be reportable to the supporting counterintelligence office.

    A GOMOR may also be a precursor to more serious administrative or punitive action such as Article 15 punishment, court-martial, or a chapter board.


    The Department of the Army Suitability Evaluation Board (DASEB) is the initial appeal authority for GOMORs and make recommendations for removal, alteration, or transfer or unfavorable information entered in a Soldier’s AMHRR. The DASEB considers appeals from Soldiers serving on active duty, in the National Guard, and in the Reserves (in grades E-6 and above). The DASEB does not accept appeals from veterans and retirees.

    A GOMOR properly filed in a Soldier’s AMHRR is presumed to be administratively correct. However, the officer who directed the filing in the AMHRR of an administrative reprimand “may request its revision, alternation, or removal if later investigation determines such information is untrue/unjust in whole or in part.” A Soldier may likewise request the removal or transfer of a GOMOR that was improperly filed.

    Soldiers whose appeal has been denied may submit a request for reconsideration no earlier than one (1) years from the date of notification of denial. Any request for reconsideration must include evidence not previously considered.


    Appeals for removal. A Soldier may request removal of a GOMOR on appeal. The Soldier has the burden to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the GOMOR is either untrue or unjust, in whole or in part. Evidence submitted in support of the appeal may include an official investigation showing the allegation was untrue; decisions by superior authorities overturning the basis for the adverse documents; notarized witness statements; historical records; official documents; and/or legal opinions. There is no time restriction to submit an appeal for removal of unfavorable information from the AMHRR.

    Appeals for transfer. A Soldier may also request that a GOMOR be transferred to the restricted portion of their AMHRR. To be eligible for a transfer, a Soldier must have received at last one evaluation since imposition of the GOMOR. The Soldier must prove by substantial evidence “that the intended purpose of the document has been served” and that transfer of the unfavorable information “would be in the best interest of the Army.” Such evidence may include statements of support from the imposing authority or the Soldier’s current or previous chain of command; subsequent evaluation reports; court documents; notarized witness statements; statements of remorse; documents demonstrating rehabilitation; and any other information which proves that the intended purpose of the GOMOR has been served.

    Soldiers who are retired, separated, or serving in the Individual Ready Reserve must appeal to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records to request removal or transfer of unfavorable information within their AMHRR.


    If you have received a GOMOR or other adverse written reprimand, contact one of our military defense lawyers today to learn more about your rights.

    The post GOMORs: The Army’s Career-Killing Reprimand appeared first on Military Justice Attorneys.

    GOMORs: The Army’s Career-Killing Reprimand
  • DoD policy requires that DNA samples be taken from service members, civilians, and contractors who are suspected of committing certain criminal offenses. These samples are forwarded to the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL) which serves as the DoD’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) participating laboratory.

    Individuals from whom samples are taken but who were not convicted of a crime can request expungement of their DNA records. If your DNA was taken during a military criminal investigation, contact our military attorneys today to learn more about your expungement rights.

    Current Service Members

    Current service members from whom DNA samples were taken but who were not convicted at general or special court-martial may request in writing that their DNA records be expunged. Conviction at court-martial does not include non-judicial punishment, administrative separation, or referral to a summary court-martial. For example, if a service member has DNA taken for an offense that ultimately results in punishment under Article 15 (non-judicial punishment) or in administrative separation (chapter board), those adverse actions are not considered a “conviction” and the service member may request expungement of their DNA records.

    Expungement requests must include proof that the charges were dismissed, withdrawn, never preferred, or otherwise have not and will not result in a criminal conviction. This service member’s request will be reviewed by their commanding officer and then submitted to the relevant DoD law enforcement organization to validate that there is no conviction that would prohibit expungement. Once confirmed, the DoD law enforcement organization will send a request for expungement to USACIL. When a request for expungement is properly submitted, USACIL will expunge the DNA records, destroy the submitted sample, notify the service member of its actions, and maintain documentation of that notice.

    Former Service Members

    Former Service members from whom samples were taken but who were not convicted of any offense by a general or special court-martial, or who can provide a certified copy of a final court order documenting the charge has been dismissed or resulted in an acquittal, can also request that their DNA records be expunged.

    Requests for expungement from former service members will be submitted to the Clerk of Court of the Military Department’s Court of Criminal Appeals and must include proof showing that none of the offenses giving rise to the collection of DNA resulted in a conviction at a general or special court-martial. This could include a final court order showing that such a conviction was overturned or showing action by the convening authority that has the effect of a full acquittal. A court order is not final if time remains for an appeal or application for discretionary review with respect to the order.

    Upon receipt of an expungement request, the Clerk of Court of the Military Department’s Court of Criminal Appeals will search their records for any conviction pertaining to the former service member and determine whether expungement is proper. If so, the Clerk of Court will send requests for expungement to USACIL. USACIL will expunge the DNA profile from the CODIS database upon receipt of a complete request.


    DoD law enforcement organizations are required to take DNA samples from civilians whom they detain and who remain within their control when there is probable cause to believe the civilian has committed a qualifying federal offense. DoD regulations specifically require that DNA samples be taken from all alleged civilian drug offenders, except in cases of simple possession and personal use. DNA samples may also be taken by civilian law enforcement organizations. Law enforcement organizations are not required to take samples from a civilian not in their control at the time when a probable-cause determination is made.

    DNA samples obtained by law enforcement will be forwarded to USACIL and potentially, to the FBI Laboratory. Civilians who are not convicted of any offense, or whose conviction was overturned, may request in writing that their DNA sample be expunged. The requester must provide, for each charge for which the DNA record could have been included in the national DNA index, a certified copy of a final court order showing that such charge has been dismissed, resulted in an acquittal, or that no charge was filed. Expungement is not authorized if the individual seeking expungement has a Federal conviction for a separate offense that should have but did not result in the collection and forwarding of DNA to USACIL.

    Contact MJA Today

    If your DNA was taken during a military criminal investigation, you may be eligible to request expungement of your DNA records. Contact Military Justice Attorneys today to speak with an attorney about your options.

    The post DNA Expungement: What You Need to Know appeared first on Military Justice Attorneys.

    DNA Expungement: What You Need to Know