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Blogs from December, 2023

  • It was an exciting, fast-paced, and ground-breaking year for MJA filled with battles won, new clients we were proud to represent, and expansion into new and existing practice areas.

    In 2023, MJA fought victoriously for clients at courts-martial, administrative separation boards, correction boards, and confinement review hearings. MJA also continued to fight for service members unfairly discharged under the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and defended service members facing a host of adverse administrative actions—with specular results.

    Through it all, MJA has worked diligently to provide our clients with the highest quality representation and to fulfill our mission to Defend Those Who Defend Us.


    MJA’s court-martial practice saw continued success in 2023, resulting in full acquittals at trial, withdrawal of charges from numerous courts-martial, the release of service members from unlawful pretrial confinement, and even charges being dismissed with prejudice.

    One memorable case involved a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps who was falsely accused at court-martial of sexually assaulting another service member’s spouse. Working closely with detailed defense counsel, MJA successfully litigated multiple pretrial motions critical to the defense case and obtained DNA testing to corroborate the Marine’s story. At trial, MJA and detailed counsel exposed deficiencies in the government’s evidence and the investigative bias of multiple government actors. After hearing all the evidence, the jury granted the Marine a “full acquittal” and returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY.

    In another case, an Army Staff Sergeant was charged at court-martial with larceny and solicitation to commit larceny of government property in violation of Articles 82 and 121, UCMJ. After refusing to take a “deal” offered by the government, the SSG hired MJA to defend him at trial where he faced the possibility of confinement, a punitive discharge, and the loss of all medical benefits, if convicted. MJA worked closely with military counsel to expose weaknesses in the government’s case and demonstrated that the charges were the product of false assumptions and a defective investigation. The jury found the Soldier NOT GUILTY on all charges.

    In addition to full acquittals, MJA successfully moved for charges to be dismissed with prejudice in one general court-martial. In that case, an Army Private First Class was charged with an alleged sexual assault. After refusing to take a “deal” offered by the Government, the Soldier retained MJA to defend him at court-martial. During trial, MJA discovered that the Government had failed to provide important evidence helpful to the client’s case and moved to dismiss the case with prejudice. MJA later learned that this was not the only violation that had occurred, and that other evidence helpful to the defense had also not been provided. After hearing all the evidence, the Court determined that the continual discovery violations prejudiced the defense and that dismissal “with prejudice” was the only just remedy.

    Court-martial defense remains at the heart of MJA’s military law practice. It means the world to us that we are able to know our clients personally, fight for them in their darkest hour, and share in their celebration when we succeed!


    One of the most ground-breaking legal developments in 2022 was the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. In 2023, MJA filed claims and lawsuits on behalf of eligible clients and continues to take an active role representing Marines and their families in this litigation.

    As background, for over 30 years Marines, their loved ones, and civilian contractors living and working aboard at Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River were exposed to drinking water systems contaminated with industrial chemicals. Numerous types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, female infertility, and other health conditions have been linked to these contaminants. After years of denying justice to those harmed by the contaminated water, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act became law in 2022, creating a federal cause of action to allow those who suffered from water contamination to file lawsuits for compensation.

    As Marines ourselves, MJA immediately became involved in the litigation and is proud to represent Marines and their families who were harmed by the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.


    Christmas came early in 2022 with Congress deciding to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. On December 23, 2022, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) into law, requiring the Secretary of Defense to rescind the mandate that members of the U.S. Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19.

    On 10 January 2023, the Secretary of Defense officially rescinded the vaccine mandate. Although recission of the inane mandate was the first step, thousands of service members were unjustly discharged for not taking the vaccine. Many others received adverse material in their military records, lost pay and retirement points, or experienced other adverse consequences.

    Since the recission, MJA has begun working with veterans to appeal their discharges and characterizations of service. Pursuant to federal law, each military branch maintains a Discharge Review Board (DRB) which meets regularly to review submissions and hear oral arguments in favor of applicants. The DRBs are authorized to reconsider discharges not ordered by sentence of a general court-martial and non-medical in nature; upgrade characterizations of service; issue re-enlistment codes; and restore rank as a matter of propriety and/or equity and fairness.


    MJA successfully represented numerous service members facing administrative separation in 2023 for allegations ranging from drug abuse to sexual assault.

    In one notable case, a Soldier nearing his Expiration Term of Service (ETS) was notified of administrative separation for allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault, and adultery. Faced with multiple accusers and the possibility of an Other than Honorable (OTH) discharge, the Soldier retained MJA to fight the allegations. MJA zealously advocated for the Soldier both before and during the board, discovering evidence which contradicted the allegations and exposing weaknesses and bias in the government’s case. After hearing all the evidence, the members unsubstantiated the allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence and voted to RETAIN the Soldier on active duty, allowing him to reach his ETS.

    In a National Guard separation action, a Captain in the Army National Guard was directed to show cause for retention at a Withdrawal of Federal Recognition (WOFR) proceeding, i.e., separation action. MJA successfully litigated allegations of assault/battery by conducting its own in-depth investigation and by preparing a sound legal defense that included presentation of key witness testimony as well as irrefutable video and documentary evidence. The Board unanimously voted to retain the officer to continue his military career.

    MJA also fought to ensure Soldiers were not separated under the Army Qualitative Management Program (QMP). In one case, a Sergeant First Class was notified of an Immediate Reenlistment Prohibition (IMREPR) Code 13 based on adverse information being officially filed in his Army Military Human Resource Record (AMHRR), making him eligible for consideration by the QMP board. MJA worked with the Soldier to respond to the notification by rebutting the underlying allegations and providing evidence in extenuation and mitigation. After conducting a comprehensive review of the Soldier’s record and his written response, the QMP recommended the Soldier’s retention on active duty.

    These are just a few of the many results MJA saw in its administrative separation defense. MJA is honored to fight for the careers of servicemembers.


    In our administrative rebuttals and appeals practice, MJA has helped numerous service members overcome adverse administrative actions they were facing.

    In an Air Force demotion action, a Technical Sergeant (E-6) was administratively demoted to Staff Sergeant (E-5) following the Airman’s lawful refusal of non-judicial punishment. MJA petitioned the Appellate Authority for full restoration of rank and related relief. MJA presented evidence on appeal showing that the chain of command seemingly violated the Airman’s rights surrounding protected communications and abused its authority with respect to DAFI 36-2502. The Appellate Authority granted the Airman’s appeal, terminating the demotion proceeding and restoring the Airman’s rank.

    In a suspected drug abuse case, a Sailor tested positive for a prescription drug following a random urinalysis. In response to the positive urinalysis, MJA provided evidence to the command showing that the Sailor had not knowingly and wrongfully used a controlled substance and that the positive urinalysis was not a drug abuse incident requiring mandatory separation processing. The Commanding Officer agreed, ruling that the incident was not drug abuse, and closed the matter without taking adverse action against the Sailor.

    In another case, a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps was placed on an extended legal hold beyond his End of Active Service (EAS) date pending adjudication of false allegations of domestic violence and a legally untenable initial determination of drug abuse. MJA expertly guided the client through the command’s drawn-out investigative process and legal hold. MJA zealously represented the Lance Corporal and advocated for no legal action. Ultimately, the convening authority agreed that no wrongful use occurred and there was no probable cause to prefer charges for domestic violence or assault consummated by battery.

    In other administrative actions, MJA successfully worked to get sexual harassment allegations unsubstantiated, GOMORs rescinded or locally file, and other adverse action avoided.


    At the military’s correction boards, MJA helped clients upgrade their characterization of service, expunge titling and indexing determinations, and remove unfavorable records from their official military personnel file.

    In a case before the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB), a Private was involuntarily discharged from the United States Army under Other Than Honorable Conditions for Misconduct after receiving Article 15 punishment and a summary court-martial conviction for alleged violations of Articles 86, 87, 90, and 91, UCMJ. Due to his characterization of service, the Private was unable to receive critical VA medical treatment related to service-connected injuries. The Soldier retained MJA after unsuccessfully petitioning the ADRB for a discharge upgrade on his own and being denied relief. MJA reviewed the Soldier’s military records and submitted extensive evidence and arguments to the ADRB demonstrating that the Soldier did not commit serious misconduct and should not have been discharged with an OTH. The DRB agreed and upgraded the Soldier’s characterization of service to General Under Honorable Conditions, allowing him to reapply for VA medical coverage.

    In another case, the Naval Discharge Review Board (NDRB) upgraded a Sailor’s discharge to fully honorable. In that case, a Hospitalman (E-3) in the United States Navy was administratively discharged with a general (under honorable conditions) characterization of service for a condition not a disability. MJA appealed to the NDRB and provided substantial evidence that the Sailor’s substantive and procedural rights were violated during the separation process and that a general discharge was unjust under the circumstances. The NDRB agreed with MJA that the Sailor’s service met the standards of acceptable conduct and performance and upgraded the Sailor’s characterization of service to fully honorable.

    Titling appeals, in particular, are extremely difficult. In one memorable case, MJA represented an Army Private First Class (E-3) at the Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR). The PFC was titled and indexed by the Army Criminal Investigation Division for assault consummated by battery after a domestic incident with her spouse. The Soldier was never taken to court-martial or nonjudicial punishment and was later honorably discharged. Despite these facts, the Soldier remained titled and later learned that she was disqualified from working in the healthcare field due to the titling action. After USACID refused to remove the titling entry, MJA appealed the decision to the ABCMR. The Board determined that the Soldier was the victim of domestic physical abuse and should not have been titled. The ABCMR granted the Soldier full relief and recommended that all Department of the Army records concerning the Soldier be corrected by removing her name from the title block of the law enforcement report.


    MJA is thankful for all the clients we were able to help in 2023 and looks forward to fighting for more service members in 2024. If you or a loved one need an experienced military attorney in your corner, contact us today for a free consultation.

    Looking Back on 2023: MJA’s Year in Review