The Mayer Law Blog

Assessing the Sides of a Sexual Assault Court-Martial

Posted January 4th, 2014 in Courts-Martial, Military Law

For a moment, let’s assess the teams that exist whenever someone in the military is prosecuted for sexual assault:

For Prosecution and Conviction

Prosecutor (Trial Counsel)

Special Victim Prosecutor

Paralegals and other legal assistants in the military justice shop.

Investigators/Special Agents/Special Victim Investigators

Special (Alleged) Victim Counsel

Victim Advocates

For the Defense

Military Defense Counsel (usually one, but maybe two in a high-profile case)

The Accused

Civilian Military Lawyer/Counsel (if hired)


For many, the idea of Special (Alleged) Victim Counsel is a new one. Here is a good article about how the Navy is creating their independent office for such counsel.

After congressional hearings where military leaders were called to the carpet and lambasted, Congress included new guidelines for how the military handles sexual assault cases in the Pentagon’s 2014 budget.

In August, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel mandated that all services create a victims legal counsel program.

For the Navy, the head of that program, the Victims Legal Counsel, or VLC, is at Mayport Naval Station.

“The victims legal counsels do not work for the prosecutor and they do not work for the defense, they are there solely to represent the victim,” according to Capt. Karen Fischer-Anderson, chief of staff for VLC.

Fischer-Anderson, a 26-year veteran attorney with experience in prosecution and defense, was assigned to set up and oversee the program consisting of herself and 29 other Judge Advocate General [JAG] officers. VLC provides legal counsel to any sexual assault victim in the Navy who requests their help.


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