We are “Marines Defending Marines” and we are good at what we do: providing zealous, ethical and effective defense counsel services. Each year, on average, the Marine Corps Defense Services Organization (DSO) represents over 1,100 clients at courts-martial and administrative separations and litigates over 150 contested courts-martials, where the client pleads “not guilty” to at least one charge, and over 500 contested administrative separation boards. The DSO takes every effort to assign the right case to the right attorney, leveraging the resources of our global criminal defense law firm. If you are a client of the DSO, you can trust that your detailed defense attorney, supported and advised by experienced, proven supervisory attorneys, is prepared to get you the best possible outcome. In addition, you have the opportunity to request an Individual Military Counsel - a uniformed attorney of your own choosing – be assigned to your case and you can also hire a civilian defense attorney, at your own cost, if you so desire.
The DSO is a functionally independent organization. While we are administratively part of Legal Services Support Sections at our respective locations, each defense branch office and the attorneys and support staff assigned at each branch office are under the supervision and operational control of their Senior and Regional Defense Counsel. The Senior Defense Counsel and Regional Defense Counsel in turn are responsible and accountable to the Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps for the delivery of defense counsel services at their location. Similarly, fitness reports for military defense lawyers follow this chain of supervision with defense lawyers’ fitness reports written by their Senior Defense Counsel; Senior Defense Counsel fitness reports written by their Regional Defense Counsel; and Regional Defense Counsel fitness reports written by the Chief Defense Counsel.
You can trust that what is said in private to your detailed defense attorney will remain private. Communications made in private to a lawyer are covered by a protection called the attorney-client privilege. This means that these communications cannot be introduced into evidence in a trial by court-martial. Additionally, our lawyers and enlisted support staff do not reveal whether a servicemember is currently talking to a defense attorney or has talked to an attorney in the past. We have a strict set of rules that prohibit us from divulging what our clients tell us. (See Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6, JAGINST. 5803.1D.) There are two exceptions to this rule which refer to (1) when a lawyer suspects a client of intent to commit a crime likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm and (2) litigation between an attorney and a client. Attorneys who violate the Rules of Professional Conduct may be subject to disciplinary action.
However, if you talk to someone other than your detailed defense attorney about your case, it is possible that the government could force that person to testify against you at trial. This includes physicians, nurses, journalists, substance abuse counselors, social workers, parents/children, spouses, partners, girlfriends/boyfriends, roommates, co-workers, your Commanding Officer, your Platoon Sergeant, etc.
Scope of Services
The scope of our legal services is limited to advising and representing uniformed servicemembers facing administrative, non-judicial and judicial actions. This includes administrative separations, boards of inquiry, non-judicial punishment, and trials by court-martial.
We do not provide legal advice regarding debt relief, divorces, child custody, leases, property law, contracts, etc. You can find legal advice regarding those issues at your local Legal Assistance office. We do not provide any legal services to dependents of uniformed servicemembers, and we do not represent uniformed servicemembers in civilian courts.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.