Does rank matter in a court martial? It does. I can tell you from my prior experience as an Army Captain running the Trial Defense Service office in Asia that rank did matter. It mattered during the preliminary negotiations, it mattered at the Article 32’s, it mattered when getting delays and it mattered when I zealously advocated for my client. In a military court martial, rank permeates everything, and it does matter. Being a Captain, or a Lieutenant in the Navy, puts you at a major disadvantage when trying to represent an accused at a court martial. Just look at it, your military defense attorney is typically an O-3, on the other side, you have an entire army of O-3s, a supervisor who is an O-4 or O-5, and they have a supervisor who is usually an O-6. This is not to mention all of the senior enlisted support these officers have at their disposal. If you only have your detailed military counsel, you basically have an entire prosecution office that outranks you.
Even when you are at the Article 32, the Article 32 officer almost always outranks the accused’s military lawyer. As a civilian attorney, I don’t get outranked, I can’t be bullied and nobody can call my superior officer. Believe it or not, it is fairly common for a military defense lawyer to have his supervisor called on him. It happened to me when I was a military lawyer and was “rocking the boat,” I see it happen to my military co-counsel. As a civilian who now runs a lawfirm of heavy hitters, nobod