The University of Houston Law Center is launching the first military justice clinic that has law students, under the supervision of faculty and experienced military defense attorneys, represent service members facing criminal charges.

Maj. Jason Marquez, clinical adjunct professor at UH Law Center and a 21-year veteran of the armed forces, will lead the military justice clinic. He currently serves as the deputy regional defense counsel for the Southwest region of the U.S. Army Reserve’s Trial Defense Service.

“The idea for the program originated when I was serving on active duty and defending a capital murder case,” Marquez said in a press release. “My defense team had three amazing law students assisting us with research and motions practice. I saw firsthand how law students could benefit a defense team and could learn a great deal from exposure to the military criminal justice system.”

Participation in the clinic is limited with three students having registered for the fall semester. Applications are currently being accepted from service members facing court-martial, termination action for minor misconduct, or criminal investigation, including homicide.

Students will be assigned to defense teams and help lead clients from initial intake through adjudication. Courts-martial are federal courts with rules of evidence and procedure that align closely with federal rules. Trials are held before a military judge and panel of uniformed officers and, in some cases, senior enlisted service members. Some administrative cases will be heard in Houston but most will be adjudicated at the base where the solider is stationed—currently limited to bases at Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, and Fort Polk.

“I am delighted the law center will have the first legal clinic to provide important representation to soldiers charged with crimes as well as provide our students with the necessary practice ready skills to become outstanding lawyers,” University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes said in a press release.

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