Practice Areas

Military Defense Counsel

Kevin Courtney is a former Marine Corps Judge Advocate (JAG) and an experienced military defense counsel. He represents military service members and veterans worldwide in the following practice areas.

“Kevin is an incredibly sharp and genuine attorney who took the time to understand my legal situation, my family dynamics, and me as a man. His counsel was timely and matter-of-fact, which helped me provide legally sound responses to the organization that I was dealing with. I am convinced that he is one of the best attorneys, especially when it comes to military law.” – Warrant Officer, US Marine Corps

Military Courts-Martial

You may be facing a general, special, or summary courts-martial. Kevin Courtney Law has represented and advised hundreds of service members facing false accusations at these forums.

General Court Marital

The General Court-Martial is the most serious type of court-martial. It the most serious due to the life altering consequences that the court martial could impose if found guilty. This forum is a criminal forum, often compared to a felony level case. General officers send the most offensive and serious allegations to this forum. It is imperative to have a military defense attorney on your team.

Special Court Martial

Special Courts-Martial are criminal trials in nature but have a cap on the maximum punishment allowed. They are often compared to misdemeanor offenses in the civilian context. However, a conviction at this forum still has life altering consequences. Why? Because the service member as a federal conviction on their record for the rest of their life.

Summary Court Martial

Unlike the General and Special Courts-Martial, a Summary Court-Martial is typically considered an administrative forum. It is administrative in nature because the service member often lacks a military criminal defense attorney at the hearing. Instead, the summary court-martial officer (usually a Major or Lieutenant Commander or higher) acts as the prosecutor, military defense attorney, and judge. Due to the lack of a military criminal defense attorney at this forum, the “conviction” at this court-martial is treated differently from convictions at a general or special court-martial. However, it can still appear later in life on background checks and cause issues for your future employment.

Experienced Defense Attorney

Kevin Courtney served on Active Duty in the United States Marine Corps as a Captain at Camp Pendleton, California. He defended officers and enlisted service members in courts-martial. The allegations ranged from sexual assault, domestic violence, drug use and possession, assault, adultery, false official statements, and more. Additionally, Kevin helped Marines with on-base DUIs, USMC PAC Order Appeals, no-board ADSEPs, and positive drug tests.

While serving as a Marine JAG at Camp Pendleton, the Regional Defense Counsel in charge of all Marine Corps Defense Attorneys on the West Coast described him as follows:

Capt Courtney is a brilliant attorney, skilled litigator, and true team player. Constantly seeks to identify areas of improvement and then takes initiative to develop and implement truly innovative solutions – has become my go-to officer for many process improvement initiatives throughout the region. Displays the seasoning and judgment of an officer with twice his experience. Excellent litigator, in court & in his writing. – Regional Defense Counsel – West, US Marine Corps

Southern California military lawyer Kevin Courtney

Article 32 Preliminary Hearings

Before a general officer can refer a criminal charge to a general court-martial, the prosecutor must present the case at an Article 32 preliminary hearing. The hearing is before a neutral judge advocate (military lawyer). The preliminary hearing officer (PHO) is focused on analyzing the following four issues: (a) whether or not the specification alleges an offense; (b) whether or not there is probable cause to believe the accused committed the offense charged; (c) whether or not the convening authority has court-martial jurisdiction over the accused and over the offense; (d) and to provide a recommendation as to the disposition that should be made of the case.

Burden of Proof: Probable Cause

The burden at an Article 32 is on the government trial counsel. They must prove there is “probable cause” the allegation occurred. Probable cause is sometimes defined as: “a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true.” While this standard is far lower than the burden of proof at trial (proof beyond a reasonable doubt), there are tactical and strategic considerations to use at this hearing to pivot the case towards a favorable outcome.

As a private military defense counsel, Kevin Courtney Law has victoriously defended clients at these hearings. We’ve done it by using strong legal tactics, exploiting the procedural rules for the Article 32 preliminary hearing, and working with clients to investigate the allegation early — often before the government prosecutor has any clue when or how Kevin Courtney Law will defend the case.

Developing an Article 32 Hearing Defense

Hiring a skilled and dedicated civilian military defense counsel prior to the preliminary hearing is crucial to developing a defense. Unfortunately, government prosecutors may investigate your case for months before charging you. But when you receive your charge sheet, you may find yourself meeting your detailed military defense attorney days later. Then you are immediately going to the Article 32 preliminary hearing. How can you successfully defend the allegation with only days to prepare? You can’t and you shouldn’t.

Kevin Courtney can investigate your case before the Article 32 Hearing and before a military JAG is on your case.

Administrative Separations

An administrative separation is the military’s attempt to terminate a service member’s military employment due to non-medical reasons. There are two types of administrative separations: board cases and no-board cases.

Administrative Separation: Board Cases

A military commander convenes an administrative separation (ADSEP) board by appointing three senior military members to the board. They will decide (1) did the allegation occur; (2) if it occurred, should the service member be retained or separated; (3) if members vote to separate, what kind of characterization should be recommended: Honorable, General (under honorable conditions); Other Than Honorable (OTH). The ADSEP board looks like a mini criminal trial. It has a government representative (Recorder), military defense attorney(s) (Counsel for the Respondent), and a jury (three board members).

While government recorders (the person representing the government at the hearing) may say the hearing is a simple hiring or firing decision, this hearing can have life altering and negative consequences — your paycheck, veteran benefits, healthcare, and dozens of other considerations are riding on this hearing. You have one shot at defending your case and you need a skilled civilian military defense attorney on your team.

Experienced ADSEP Board Attorney

Kevin Courtney Law has represented clients at these hearings for years with remarkable outcomes. Commands will often notify the service member of the proposed administrative separation and start preparing the government’s case. This all occurs while the service member waits months before the military details a JAG to represent them. At that point, there is little time to prepare a thorough and complete defense. When Kevin Courtney Law joins your team, we start working with you to investigate right away. With your career on the line, would you want to present to the members supportive evidence developed over several months? Or last-minute, disorganized sheets of paper?

If you want your case to be taken seriously, present your case in a detailed, thorough, organized manner. That takes time. Kevin Courtney Law can help you do that today!

Administrative Separation: No Board Cases

If the service member has served for less than six years, a commanding officer can terminate a service member’s employment and separate the service member with a General (under honorable conditions) characterization of service without a hearing. This is called a No-Board ADSEP Case or a “Gen Sep.”

When a service member is accused of a crime, has poor performance, or has a non-medical reason for separation, the military is authorized to notify the service member of the proposed separation with the option to write a written rebuttal. This method lacks the same procedural protections afforded to a service member at an ADSEP Board. It is authorized because an Other Than Honorable (OTH) is not allowed. This means the service member keeps most of their VA benefits — EXCEPT the GI Bill (and some others).

GI Bill Benefits

Many service members joined the service because they wanted to go to college or a trade school after the military. If the member is on their second enlistment, the GI Bill has likely already vested and is safe. But if this is the first enlistment, the service member may lose the GI Bill. It could be worth more than $150,000 depending on where the veteran goes to school. But they are also lost and in need of guidance with how to write the rebuttal.

As a prior uniformed military defense lawyer, Kevin Courtney Law knows how important this written rebuttal is. It has lasting impacts for a service member’s career and future education. It is critical to have an organized, thoughtful, and evidence based rebuttal to have a chance at either changing the mind of the commanding officer or to succeed on appeal at the military discharge review boards. Unlike the timeline associated with an ADSEP Board case, the timeline for submitting a rebuttal is often condensed, sometimes to less than five days.

When time is of the essence, don’t waste time trying to figure out the winning solution on your own. Kevin Courtney Law has experience helping clients get a second chance at their career by writing compelling rebuttals, supported by evidence.

NJP / Non-Judicial Punishment

Service members accused of minor misconduct may find themselves facing non-judicial punishment, an Article 15 hearing, Captain’s Mast, or NJP. These are all the same hearing depending on the branch of service. Commanders see non-judicial punishment as a tool for maintaining good order and discipline within the ranks.

An NJP or Article 15 is what it sounds like — non-judicial, meaning this is not a criminal court.  But it can have serious consequences on a service member’s career, promotions, pay, rank, and ability to re-enlist. Just because the hearing is non-judicial doesn’t mean a service member lack rights.

When a service member faces NJP, there are two questions they need to answer. First, Accept or Deny the NJP Forum. Second, if they accept, the service member needs to decide whether to plead Guilty or Not Guilty.

Did you know a service member can accept NJP and plead Not Guilty (maintain their innocence)? This is probably the most misunderstood military justice concept in the junior enlisted ranks. There are certain situations where this may be the right option for the service member.

One example may be for testing positive on a drug test where the service member does not want to risk going to a court-martial, but knows they will face an ADSEP Board later.

Experienced NJP Attorney

Kevin Courtney Law can help service members prepare to make their decision whether or not to deny the NJP. Additionally, we can help prepare how to present their case at non-judicial punishment. Schedule a call today!

Counseling Rebuttals

Service members who receive a negative counseling often have the opportunity to write a written rebuttal. You can provide a detailed rebuttal to demonstrate innocence. In other circumstances, there may be a reason to write a short statement stating they disagree with the allegation. As a prior uniformed military defense lawyer, Kevin Courtney Law has reviewed hundreds of proposed statements and drafted effective rebuttals for clients.

Service Members should avoid writing something that will cause more issues. Speaking with Kevin Courtney Law about what strategy to take can save service members’ careers, depending on the situation.

Officer Representation

Representing military officers for criminal and administrative matters is highly complex, lengthy, and nuanced. Officer litigation includes security clearance issues, promotion holds, and the loss of the command’s trust and confidence in the officer. All of this can stem from false allegations or misunderstood situations.

Officers often believe they can talk their way out of a situation or the circumstance will go away with time. Unfortunately, officer cases typically last more than a year. They require nuanced negotiations with high level judge advocates (military lawyers). And they get the attention of two and three-star general officers and admirals.

While on active duty, the Senior Defense Counsel at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, one of the Department of Defense’s busiest military justice locations, described then-Captain Kevin Courtney as:

Due to his calm demeanor and professionalism, I entrusted him with the weighty task of defending fellow officers facing career-ending investigations and charges. He has proven, time and time again, that he is up to the mentally and physically taxing task of defending Marines and Sailors at one of the busiest military justice offices in the DoD.

Senior Defense Counsel, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California

With successful experience representing and advising company and field-grade officers, Kevin Courtney Law is ready to join your defense team. Schedule a free 30-minute call today!

Boards of Correction

The military boards of correction are civilian boards and the highest level of administrative review within the respective military departments with the mission to correct errors in or remove injustices from military records. When service members have exhausted all avenues within their commands to rectify their military records, they have the right to submit requests to the military board of correction for their respective branch of service.

An example when a service member’s official military personnel file erroneously shows they received a non-judicial punishment and the command refuses to help the service member fix this error, the military board of correction is available to fix this error.

Additionally, if a service member is denied their procedural due process (appropriate time to write a rebuttal to a negative counseling) and there are negative consequences as a result, the military boards of correction may fix the error by reversing the decision and allowing the service member the time to properly submit their rebuttal.

As an experienced military defense counsel, Kevin Courtney Law has advised clients on submitting applications for relief. We understand the requirements for submission. Schedule a free 30-minute call today.

Discharge Upgrades

A service member’s characterization of service accompanies them throughout their life. It dictates their entitlement to veterans benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs and state veteran affairs offices. And it can significantly influence future employment decisions. Veterans who perceive their discharge as unjustly administered can seek recourse through Military Discharge Review Boards.

What would an upgrade from General (under honorable conditions) to Honorable mean for a discharged veteran who earned the rank of Lance Corporal? Assuming the General discharge denied the Lance Corporal their GI Bill, the change in discharge could mean a $150,000 benefit depending on where they attend school.

What would an upgrade from Other than Honorable (OTH) to General (under honorable conditions) mean for a veteran? It would mean getting access to the VA Home Loan. It could mean owning a home with zero down, putting a roof over a family’s head, and owning a piece of the American dream.

As a military discharge upgrade lawyer, Kevin Courtney Law assists veterans petition their respective military discharge review boards to present a compelling case for an upgrade. Schedule a free consultation today.

Clemency and Parole Boards

Some parents ask: “How can I reduce my son’s confinement time in the military?” and spouses ask: “How do I decrease my husband’s confinement time in the military?”

When a court-martial sentence includes confinement for a service member, they have the right to request relief for a shorter sentence through the relevant military clemency and parole boards.

For example, the Secretary of the Navy delegate authority for clemency matters for Sailors and Marines to the Navy Clemency and Parole Board. The NC&PB bases its decisions, on the nature and circumstances of the offenses, military and civilian background of the individual, comments and recommendations of the principal officials responsible for the court-martial proceedings involved, psychiatric evaluations, and various post-trial considerations such as attitude, conduct and performance, adjustment to confinement, social factors, and the participation and completion of required offense related treatment.

Kevin Courtney Law can help prisoners sentenced due to a court-martial apply for clemency relief and parole. Inquiry today with a free call.

Expungements/Titling

“How do I expunge my military record?” and “Will my military arrest show up on a background check?” are questions asked of me as a civilian military defense attorney.

When a military law enforcement agency investigates someone accused of a crime, they may “title” the service member or civilian. It is part of the investigation. Titling involves designating the service member as the subject of the investigation and placing their name in the report’s “title.” They then add the person’s information to the Defense Central Index of Investigations. If there isn’t enough evidence for the “titling,” the person has the authority to request the removal of the titling. This may help a person avoid having their arrest appear on background checks.

Kevin Courtney Law can help service members and veterans submit the necessary paperwork to remove the “titling” from the Defense Central Index of Investigations.

DNA Expungment

When authorities arrest a service member, they usually conduct interviews or interrogations and take their DNA. They collect the DNA sample and send it to the US Army’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Military members who provided samples, yet were not convicted of any offense by general or special courts-martial, may request in writing through their chain of command to expunge their DNA records.

Former service members and civilians can request the expungement of their DNA record. However, to be successful, the individual must not have a conviction on their record.

Kevin Courtney Law can help both current and former service members submit effective applications to have their DNA samples removed from CODIS. Call 760-385-3889 today to find out how!

Investigations

Service members may find themselves alone and afraid when a law enforcement agency (NCIS, CID, OSI, etc.) or the service member’s command starts an investigation into an allegation because most military defense service organizations are unable to detail a military judge advocate to assist the service member during the investigation. Service members likely ask themselves: should I talk with the police? Should I make a statement? Why doesn’t my command believe me?

As a military defense lawyer, Kevin Courtney Law is able to assist service members answer those questions and more during the investigation phase of the case. Instead of being alone without guidance, Kevin Courtney Law can assist service members during the some of the most critical moments of the litigation! Don’t wait, schedule your free 30-minute appointment today! Or call 760-385-3889.