By Attorney James Branum. May 20, 2010
I am writing on behalf of a pro-bono client of mine, SPC Nicole Mitchell.
SPC Mitchell was sentenced to 30 days in jail today in a Summary Court-Martial proceeding at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the offense of AWOL. But this is not your typical AWOL case. It began some time ago. SPC Mitchell was an M.P. in the US Army. She served well until she went on a deployment to Iraq, where she began to have serious issues of conscience. After significant reflection and inner turmoil, she applied for C.O. (conscientious objector) status. The coming months were hard, in that she faced significant harassment for applying, but she prevailed. She was granted 1-A-0 conscientious objector status, which meant that she would continue to serve in the military but in a non-combatant status.
Living as a conscientious objector in the U.S. Army proved to be nearly impossible. SPC Mitchell was not assigned to a new M.O.S. (military occupational specialty), but instead remained as an M.P. She no longer carried a weapon but otherwise had to function as an M.P. So when personal problems arose in her life (something that happens to many soldiers), the emotional strain and stress became too much and she went AWOL.
Upon return to her unit, SPC Mitchell did her best to be a good soldier. In many cases, combat veterans who go AWOL and return voluntarily are not prosecuted, but this did not happen to SPC Mitchell. Her command rejected our request for her to be given a chapter 10 discharge in lieu of court-martial, and instead she was given a summary court-martial.
How you can help SPC Mitchell get an early release from the stockade:
Over the next few days I will be preparing a 1105 clemency application for SPC Mitchell. In this clemency application, I will be asking the convening authority (a high-level officer in her command chain) to suspend the remainder of Nicole’s sentence.
As part of this 1105 clemency application we are asking supporters and friends of Nicole Mitchell to write letters urging the convening authority to act on Nicole’s behalf.
Here is a sample of what a supporting letter could look like (but please reword it as you see fit so it will be in your own words):To whom it may concern:Also if you know Nicole personally and/or are a US military veteran, please be sure to mention that in your letter.
I am writing on behalf of SPC Nicole Mitchell, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail on May 19, 2010 for the offense of AWOL.
I understand that you have the power to suspend the remainder of her sentence. I would ask you to do this because.1. Character - SPC Mitchell took the courageous step of applying for conscientious objector status while in Iraq. She suffered harassment and derision for doing this, but she held her ground. And after receiving C.O. status, she did her best to do her duties within the boundaries of her conscience and the regulations for as long as she was able to.
2. Fairness - Most soldiers who go AWOL do not receive jail time, but rather are either given non-judicial punishment (article 15) or are chaptered out of the Army.
3. Rehabilitation - SPC Mitchell is a gifted musician who will do her best to make the world a better place. The sooner she is released from the prison, the sooner she can be about her life’s work.
YOUR NAME HERE
YOUR CONTACT INFO HERE
Due to time constraints, your letter will need to be either faxed or emailed to me.
Faxes can be sent to me at: 1-866-757-8785.
Emails can be sent to girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com (but please put NICOLE MITCHELL in the subject line, so your email won’t get lost in the shuffle).-thanks to Courage To Resist
All letters must be received no later than Sunday, May 23rd.
Other ways you can help:
We do not know yet what jail Nicole is being sent to, but as soon we do I’ll post her mailing address here.
We trust that Nicole will be treated well while in jail, but if she is not I may ask for you letters to be sent to the jail by the public. I’ll keep folks advised if this is necessary. More information on the situation will soon also be posted at CoffeeStrong.org