Category Archives: Military Law Practice & Training

Military Law and the New NDAA

Changes include sexual assault reform, repeal of sodomy ban, numerous other important updates to UCMJ, court-martial procedure.

This article first appeared in the March 2014 issue of On Watch, MLTF’s quarterly newsletter and military law journal. 

The new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014, enacted Dec. 26, 2013, contains a number of significant changes to the UCMJ and court-martial procedure, some but not all are focused on military sexual assault cases. These changes are summarized below; their implications for court-martial practice will be discussed in future issues of On Watch.

Memo Update: Representing Servicemembers in Involuntary Discharge Proceedings

MLTF’s memo “Representing Servicemembers in Involuntary Discharge Proceedings”  has been updated as of October 2013. It gives an overview of administrative discharges and procedures for challenging them. Written for attorneys and counselors, it is also helpful for servicemembers who are facing involuntary discharge.

Parts I and II were written by Kathleen Gilberd, a legal worker in San Diego who works in the areas of discharges and discharge review, and is executive director of the MLTF. Part III was written by Bridget Wilson, who practices military law in San Diego and is a volunteer attorney with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

This replaces the 2007 edition of the memo by the same title.

New MLTF memo on Article 138 complaints


Servicemembers can complain about wrongs done to them by their command under Article 138, UCMJ. Although this is a powerful tool, few people know about it. This memo gives an overview of the complaint procedure and discusses some of the differences among the service branches.

Access the memo in the version of your choice, using the buttons on the right.

CLE: Military Discharge Upgrading & Discharge Review

MLTF will offer a CLE on Military Discharge Upgrading & Discharge Review at the NLG 2012 ‘Law for the People’ Convention in Pasadena, CA. The presenters will be Teresa Panepinto, Jim Klimaski, Bridgit Wilson and Kathy Gilberd.

Date & Time: Thursday, Oct. 11, 8:30a – 12:30a

Cost: Guild attorneys $75; other attorneys $100; law students and legal workers $25; scholarships available.

Download flyer and registration form. For further info, contact us.

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