Thursday, June 26, 2014

What if the government reassigns defense counsel?

Major Jason Wright, JA, U.S. Army
The Rachel Maddow Show yesterday ran this smart segment about Major Jason Wright, a U.S. Army judge advocate who resigned his commission rather than accept orders to a JAG Corps graduate course that would have prevented him from continuing his representation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the accuseds in the 9/11 military commission case.

This is the latest in a series of professional responsibility issues that has emerged, involving both prosecutors and defense counsel, since military commissions were revived under President George W. Bush.


  1. Interesting situation. These are my thoughts alone--based upon my observations--and not speaking for anyone or anything else. In my experience within the JAGC, at best one can get, typically, only one deferral to the JAG Grad Course, and MAJ Wright used his one deferral. This is the classic conflict between the "needs of the Army" butting up against other "needs"--whether the individual Soldier's needs or those of the Soldier's family or, in this case, the needs of an accused/client.

    The Army has a career path plan for all JAGs and certain gates must be met. In order for JAGs to remain competitive at each gate, and in order for JAGs to meet the needs of the Army, squares must be filled and at certain times. So, I am not sure that this is that big an issue. As much as I enjoy the TRMS, her report makes it seem more nefarious than it is. This is a routine (again, in my opinion) conflict arising in every Permanent Change of Station (PCS) opportunity that is only significant because of the nature of the accused affected by an otherwise ordinary application of standard practice.

    So, I applaud MAJ Wright for making the right call for both him and his client. But it is not the right call for his employer, and since one cannot serve two masters, it is the only call he could really make, if he no longer wished to pursue a competitive Army career. I wish him well.

  2. We have received a comment that was thoughtful but, contrary to this blog's editorial policy, did not indicate the writer's name. Please resubmit it.


Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).