Author Archives: James M. Branum

Mario and Kimberly Rivera

Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government

This press release was sent out a short time ago by the War Resisters Support Campaign of Canada

Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government

TORONTO—On Monday afternoon, during a court-martial hearing at Fort Carson, Colorado, Kimberly Rivera was sentenced to 14 months in military prison and a dishonourable discharge after publicly expressing her conscientious objection to the Iraq War while in Canada.

Under the terms of a pre-trial agreement, she will serve 10 months of that sentence.

CLE: US Army AWOL – Tips for civilian defense attorneys

The Military Law Task of the National Lawyers Guild along with the Southwest and Texoma regions of the National Lawyers Guild are proud to present a continuing legal education seminar.

US Army AWOL – Practice tips for Civilian Attorneys

Presented by James M. Branum

[notification type=”info”]Update: The presentation can now be viewed here, free of charge, or on MLTF’s Ustream channel.. [/notification]

Letter writing campaign for Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera

This message is from the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee.


Dear friends,

We are writing to you on behalf of Kimberly Rivera, an Iraq War resister.

Kimberly, from Mesquite, Texas, deployed to Iraq in 2006. After several months, she found that she could not in good conscience continue to participate in the war. While in the US on leave, she and her family sought asylum in Canada. Unfortunately, the Canadian government denied her asylum and on September 20th, she and her family voluntarily returned to the US. She was arrested at the border and is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado, awaiting a decision by her command as to what her fate will be.

We are reaching out to you today to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of support for Kim.

Here is a bit of background about Kim, and below are guidelines for letters of support:
Kim and her husband Mario have four young children: Christian, 10; Rebecca, 8; Katie, 3; and Gabriel, 18 months.
Kim’s objection to the war grew out of her experience in Iraq, and her faith.
Kim’s separation from her family is causing tremendous hardship for all of the family.
Kim was diagnosed with PTSD following her tour in Iraq, and incarceration would only exacerbate her symptoms.

In peace and solidarity,

Bill Sulzman

of the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee


Dear friends and supporters of Kimberly Rivera,

Kimberly Rivera is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado. She is part of a unit but her future is uncertain. She likely will face a military court-martial (and if convicted a lengthy prison sentence), but there are other options for command.

We are asking friends and supporters of Kimberly to write letters of support in the hopes of persuading the military authorities to not prosecute her, but instead give her a discharge.

Letters should be sent to Kimberly’s attorney at the contact point below. Her attorney will present the letters to her command as they come in, but also may use them as mitigating evidence for sentencing/clemency purposes if her case does go to trial.


– Address letters to “To whom it may concern.” 

– Please be polite and civil in your letter. It is ok to express emotion, but angry/hateful letters will not be helpful.  

– Please avoid political statements in your letters. The focus needs to stay on Kimberly and her plight. 

– If you know Kimberly personally, please say so in your letter. (Please also be sure and tell stories that illustrate the kind of character she has and why she should be back home with her family).

– If you are military veteran, please say so in your letter. 

– Please include your full name and contact information in your letter. 

– Please state in the letter that you believe that Kimberly should be immediately discharged from the Army and not prosecuted.

Letters should be sent to:

James M. Branum
Attorney at Law
PO Box 721016
Oklahoma City, OK 73172

Email:  girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com (please include “Kimberly Rivera” in the subject line)

Fax: 1-866-757-8785

A message from our outgoing MLTF Chair

Dear MLTF members,

I am writing to let you all know about a recent change in our MLTF officers.

After serving for a little over 4 years in the role of either co-chair or chair of the MLTF, I decided it was time for me to transition to a new role in this organization that will give me more time for training and writing on military law issues.

My resignation was accepted last night by our MLTF steering committee, and the vacancy was filled by the election of Dan Mayfield and Jeff Lake to be co-chairs. During the same meeting, I was elected to be our secretary (filling the vacancy left by the passing away of Karen Detamore).

I have greatly enjoyed my work as chair of the MLTF. These last few years have been a time of building and strengthening our organization, but I feel confident that the coming years will be a time of even greater growth and organizational effectiveness.

I also want to take a moment to express my appreciation for our MLTF Steering committee (one of the most active boards of any non-profit group I’ve seen), Marti Hiken (previous MLTF chair & co-chair, for building a strong foundation of members and supporters during her years), and Kathy Gilberd (previous MLTF co-chair and our current executive director, who has been a dear friend as well as a trusted comrade in the struggle). These folks have made my experience as chair a rewarding experience.

In solidarity,
James M. Branum

CLE: Representing Servicemembers who can no longer serve

military law task force




A CLE presentation In Fayettville, Arkansas

Held in conjunction with the annual conference of the GI Rights Network

Saturday, June 2, 2012

$25-75 suggested donation for attorneys needing CLE credit

No Charge for those attending who do not need CLE credit for attendance

LIVE ATTENDANCE CLE CREDIT INFORMATION: We have applied for CLE credit from the Oklahoma and Arkansas bars.

RECORDED ATTENDANCE CLE CREDIT INFORMATION: We will be recording this presentation in audio format. Pending approval, CLE credit should be available in Oklahoma and other states that allow audio archived CLE. (Arkansas unfortunately does not permit archived CLE credit.) More information on the recorded CLE can be found later in June at

9:00a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Mt. Sequoyah Retreat & Conference Center

150 NW Skyline Drive

Fayetteville, AR 72701


9:00 – 9:15 Registration and introductions

9:15 – 10:15 Military Sexual Trauma* (Rachel Natelson and Kathleen Gilberd)

10:15 – 10:30 Break

10:30 – 11:30 Conscientious Objection* (Deborah Karpatkin)

11:30 – 11:45 Break

11:45 – 12:45 AWOL and Unauthorized Absence Defense* (James Branum)

12:45 – 1:15 Lunch – Military Law Task Force (MLTF) Meeting

* CLE Approval applied for in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

For more information call 405-494-0562


Rachel Natelson is the Legal Director of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN). She formerly developed and presided over the Veterans and Servicemembers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City, and served as a staff attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Natelson received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her law degree from New York University School of Law.

Kathleen Gilberd has worked as a military counselor for over 30 years, assisting conscientious objectors, soldiers fighting sexual harassment and racial discrimination, GI whistleblowers, soldiers and sailors accused under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policies, and veterans unfairly denied benefits after “bad paper discharges.” Her writing and cases have made her a nationally recognized expert in military administrative law. Gilberd is the Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force and a frequent contributor to its legal publication, On Watch. She is co-author ofFighting Back, which was for many years the only legal manual on military policy on homosexuality, and a contributing author for the respected legal manual, Sexual Orientation and the Law. She serves on the board of directors of the GI Rights Network and has been involved in both national and local work in the National Lawyers Guild since 1977. She received a degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her website can be found at

Deborah Karpatkin is a civil rights, civil liberties and employment rights lawyer in private practice in New York City. She has represented Conscientious Objectors and military service members since 1991. On behalf of ACLU affiliates in New York, D.C., Southern California, and Connecticut, Ms. Karpatkin has filed several successful habeas corpus petitions on behalf of four conscientious objectors: Martin v. Secretary, NDNY (2006) (TRO issued to bar deployment of Army Sergeant with pending CO application; EAJA fees awarded; CO granted); Brown v. Geren, DDC (2007) (CO granted to Army officer and West Point grad after petition filed); Lee v. Secretary of the Army, EDCA (2007) (honorable discharge granted Army Specialist after petition filed); and Izbicki v. Mabus (2010) (CO granted to Navy officer and Naval Academy grad after petition filed). In addition, Ms. Karpatkin has, on behalf of the ACLU, co-counseled amicus curiae briefs in two recent CO appeals: Watson v. Geren, 569 F. 3d 115 (2d Cir. 2009); and Kanai v. McHugh, 638 F. 3d 251 (4th Cir. 2011).

In her employment practice, she represents individuals at all income levels, in both litigation and transactional work. She is co-counsel with the NYCLU in a lawsuit against the Salvation Army challenging its faith-based employment practices in its government-funded programs.

Ms. Karpatkin is a member of the NYC Bar Association, and has served on its Military Affairs and Justice and Lawyers’ Orchestra Committees. She is a member of the National Employment Lawyers’ Association of New York, where she serves on the Electronic Discovery Committee. She is a long time board member, active volunteer attorney, and former officer of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

After graduating from Columbia Law School, Ms. Karpatkin served as law clerk to Federal District Court Judge Gus J. Solomon in Portland, OR; Associate at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard in New York; Staff Counsel for the ACLU of New Jersey; Clinical Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School; and Legal Director of 100% Vote/Human SERVE, the national voter registration reform advocacy organization. She opened her private law practice in 2001.

James M. Branum is a solo-practitioner in Oklahoma City where he practices military law, LGBT law, consumer bankruptcy and criminal defense. He is a graduate of Austin School of Theology and Oklahoma City University School of Law. He currently serves as the chair of the Military Law Task Force, legal director of the Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research and as the Minister of Peace and Justice of Joy Mennonite Church of Oklahoma City. To date, Mr. Branum has presented more than 20 seminars for lawyers, paralegals and law students in the areas of military law and related subjects.

The American Bar Association Journal named Branum as of the “Top 10 Legal Rebels of 2010.”

Mr. Branum has represented servicemembers before military authorities at Fort Hood, Fort Bliss, Fort Sill, Fort Stewart, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Drum, Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Fort Lee, National Guard posts in Oklahoma and Texas, US Army Human Resources Command-St. Louis, US Army Pardon and Parole Board, US Army CO Review Board, US Army Court of Criminal Appeals (pro hac vice), Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Tinker AFB, Sheppard AFB, Charleston Naval Brig, Miramar Naval Consolidated Brig and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

His website can be found at