Defending AWOL servicemembers – a day of CLE programming

This CLE is part of the MLTF’s Advocacy & Activism Through Military Law training program and is funded in part by a grant from the NLG Foundation. Other trainings will be available in the near future, and you can find out more on the MLTF Training Program page, and/or join our low-volume mailing list.


  • Live via Zoom on October 25, 2022, starting at 8 am Pacific/9am Mountain/10 am Central/11 am Eastern.
  • RESCHEDULED: New Time/Date TBA
  • Live In-Person in Oklahoma City (Montague-Sonador HOA Clubhouse, 16121 Capulet Dr, Edmond, OK 73013) — please note that the in-person presenter is fully vaccinated and boosted, and asks that those attending in person also be vaccinated or wear a mask during the presentation.
  • Recorded format – available soon for viewing (in many states this would constitute on-demand/recorded CLE credit)

Topic/Background: This program is a day-long program focusing on the art of defending servicemembers who may be facing charges for absence-related offenses, including AWOL/UA, Desertion, and Missing Movement. The program will include information on all of the branches of the military, including some of the ways that different branches handle these cases.

A good chunk of the presentation will involve some problem-solving of some hypothetical situations, based on common situations encountered by lawyers in this field.

While this program is a continuing legal education seminar for attorneys, others with interest in the subject (including GI Rights counselors and servicemember advocates) are welcome to attend.

portrait of James M. Branum

Presenter: James M. Branum has practiced military criminal defense and free speech law since 2006. He has represented military service members at posts across the United States including many of the public resisters of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He is the author of the book US Army: A Practice Guide and Formbook and is a past chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild. He also works as the editor of Humanistic Judaism magazine.

We also may have some other speakers for portions of the program, which be announced in the coming days.

CLE Credit:

  • California: This CLE is co-sponsored by the SF Bay area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and is approved for 4.5 hours of general CLE credit and 1 hour of ethics CLE credit.
  • Oklahoma: This CLE is co-sponsored by the Oklahoma Objector Community and accreditation is pending. We anticipate that it will be approved for 5 hours of general CLE credit and 1.25 hours of ethics CLE credit (Oklahoma counts a credit as 50 minutes of instructional time)
  • Texas: Due to popular demand, we are applying for accreditation for members of the Texas bar. We anticipate that it will be approved for 4.5 hours of general CLE credit and 1 hours of ethics CLE credit.
  • For other jurisdictions: Attorneys in other states will be given a “uniform application for accreditation of CLE credit” which can be submitted to one’s state bar. We cannot guarantee that a state bar will approve the CLE credit but most states will likely do so. Your state may also require you to pay a nominal fee for submitting this form, which would be your responsibility.

FORMAT: This program will be a live presentation (for both online and in-person attendees), but will be available in recorded video/audio form about a day after the live presentation and will be available online as an on-demand/non-participatory CLE seminar for one year.

Agenda/Schedule (all times listed below are Central Time):

  • 10-10:30 am – Introduction to UCMJ’s relevant provisions (desertion, AWOL, missing movement, etc.) and MCM provisions, discussions of potential punishments, discussion of branch differences, discussion of different kinds of proceedings (admin separation, article 15, courts-martial, etc), consequences under other areas of law (immigration, family law, etc.)
  • 10:30-11:00 am – Ethics of AWOL Defense – including discussion of suggested disclaimer language, hypotheticals, etc.
  • 11:00 am-12:00 pm  – Mitigation/Extenuation/Aggravation – general discussion in AWOL context, importance of preserving record for discharge upgrade process, etc.
  • 12-1 pm – Lunch Break
  • 1-1:45 pm – US Army – Part 1 – PCF Process (trainees and OCONUS, but also discussion exceptions), National Guard & Reserves
  • 1:45-2:30 pm US Army Part 2 – Active duty – including discussions of alternatives to prosecution
  • 2:30-2:45 pm – Break
  • 2:45-3:45 pm – Absence cases in the US Navy, USMC, and Coast Guard
  • 3:45-4:30 pm – Absence cases in the US Air Force & Space Force
  • 4:30-4:45 pm – Conclusion, discussion of additional resources, questions


All who are registered for the CLE will receive an advance ebook copy of the 2023 update to US Army: A Practice Guide and Formbook (a $49 value)

COST: For Attorneys seeking CLE Credit, the cost is a sliding-scale of between $50 and $200. For non-attorneys, we ask for a donation.

How to sign up: Registration is required to participate in the live training, which is (unfortunately) a two-step process.

  • Step 1: Register for the training here.
  • Step 2: Pay your tuition (if seeking CLE Credit) or consider making a donation (if you are not seeking CLE credit). Payment options are listed below (but if you have any problems with registering, please contact James at girightslawyer(at)