Former Shore Chan LLP lawyer successfully defends Marine involved in fatal accident

February 26, 2022

Captain Jonathan Walther, a Marine Corps JAG officer, successfully defended his client in legal proceedings following a fatal accident that claimed nine lives.

On July 30, 2020, a Marine Corps Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) sank off the coast of San Clemente Island in California, resulting in the deaths of eight Marines and one Navy Corpsman.

According to a U.S. Naval Institute report of a separate command investigation, "the deaths were the result of poor training, a vehicle in 'horrible condition,' and lapsed safety procedures in a rush to deploy an operational AAV 

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Trevor Johnson was on board the AAV that sank and served as the Section Leader and its de facto Vehicle Commander.

Captain Walther, along with his co-counsel Captain Brian Cordero, defended Gunnery Sergeant Johnson in an Administrative Separation Board on the basis of a Commission of a Serious Offense, namely a violation of UCMJ Art. 92 Dereliction of Duty Causing Death.

Captain Walther's opposing counsel included the head prosecutor of the Western Circuit of the Marine Corps (a Lieutenant Colonel) and a member of the complex trial team (a Major).

Captain Walther handled voir dire, opening argument, and cross-examination of a Government witness.

After a three day trial and 20 minutes of deliberations, the Board returned a verdict equating to a full acquittal.

The case has been widely reported in the media, in which Captain Walther has been extensively quoted.
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Before serving on active duty, Captain Walther practiced law with the firm Shore Chan LLP after graduating from Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law as a Sumner Scholar.

"We are extraordinarily proud of Jonathan's accomplishment and his service to our country," states Alfonso Garcia Chan, partner of Shore Chan LLP.

Shore Chan LLP is a Dallas-based law firm that has included several veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps among its lawyers and staff.