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Training Trial Counsel

January 29, 2012 | Captain Carlos Ramirez-Vazquez

Well, I can't believe it's been a year since I've posted. 

A lot has happened since the thick of the 2010 tax season. I finished up at the Tax Center in May of last year and transitioned over to Criminal Law. I'm currently serving as the trial counsel (prosecutor) for the Army Logistics University, US Army Garrison Fort Lee, Kenner Army Health Clinic, Bull Dental Clinic and HHC, CASCOM. This is a challenging job where I advise 4 Special Court Martial Convening Authorities, 1 Summary Court Martial Convening Authority and  13 company commanders. 

Today I'm in Houston, Texas, where I've been attending the Sexual Assault Trial Advocacy Course, presented by the Trial Counsel Assistance Program and the Defense Counsel Assistance Program.  This joint course is designed to improve advocacy skills of counsel in Sexual Assault Trial by focusing on the issues that are unique to SA cases. Week one was spent working with character evidence, non-fungible evidence, understanding applicable rules of evidence (especially MRE 412, also known as the "rape shield"), and learning some of the medical issues behind sex assault evidence. 

A great deal of time was spent hearing from and speaking to Sex Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) about the forensic examination of victims and addressing the misconceptions many people (including trial practitioners) have regarding the injuries and physical findings "expected" in sex assault cases. It's difficult to describe just exactly how many misconceptions exist and the challenge prosecutors face when presenting evidence to a panel. 

This second week we will be spending time on more advanced subjects. Namely opening and closing arguments, objections, voir dire and electronic evidence.

I hope to be able to post more soon. I'm resolving not to neglect this blog and lift some of the weight of JAG posting off the shoulders of MAJ Grimes and the basic course students.  

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