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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 
platoon." 
https://news.usni.org/2021/03/25/investigation-7-month-long-chain-of-failure-led-to-9-killed-in-aav-sinking.

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.
See, e.g.,
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/02/26/hearings-for-leadership-in-fatal-aav-sinking-wrap-up-at-camp-pendleton/.

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.