If you’re in a military court martial, the government is going to bring in every witness that they can get their hands on. They will pay for the witness to come, they often pay the witness for their testimony as an expert witness, they can fly witnesses in from anywhere in the world. It’s never a problem because they have deep pockets.
Here’s how it works for the defendant. The defense lawyers have to write up a memorandum about a month before trial with the all the witnesses names. The defense attorneys then have to give it to the government. Not only is it the witnesses names you want to have brought to the court martial, you have to tell the government exactly what the witness is going to say. Some judges require you to write out a long statement explaining why the testimony is relevant, why that testimony will help the defense. You basically have to expose the entire defense strategy in writing, whereas the government just has to tell you the witness’ name.
The prosecution then gets to review your list of witnesses and under the UCMJ they get to deny any witness that they don’t think is relevant, meaning that if they think the witness is helpful. And many cases the government will deny every witness that you ask for. The next step is to then go to the judge and ask the judge, basically beg the judge to allow you to bring witnesses to testify in your defense.
In your request to the judge, you then have to often put more information into that statement as to what these witnesses will say. And in the end, the judge often cuts your witness list down considerably.
What does that mean to the average defendant? You need a court martial attorney that’s experienced in crafting witness lists and an attorney that is experienced in fighting, in getting witness list approved and in fighting the case against odds even if the judge denies your witnesses and the prosecution denies your witnesses.