Ernesto C. Gapasin, Esq.,
Managing Partner of Newsom & Gapasin, Attorneys at Law
Mr. Gapasin has consistently been praised as a tough, hard-hitting litigator who fights relentlessly on behalf of his clients. This was a reputation founded on unique experiences both in and out of the court.
Former JAG Prosecutor.
While in the JAG Corps, Mr. Gapasin served in a number of positions that broadened his experience in Military Law and Courts-Martial Defense. Mr. Gapasin served as a prosecutor in the Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Mr. Gapasin's service as a former Prosecutor gives him a unique advantage that many military defense lawyers do not have. Mr. Gapasin served as the primary advisor to the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority and subordinate commanders on cases in which he served as the lead prosecutor. Mr. Gapasin also served as a recorder (a government representative) to administrative separation boards, and coordinated criminal investigations with MPI, CID, investigating officers, and company commanders. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Gapasin also advised company and battalion commanders, prepared charge sheets, and argued government motions. Mr. Gapasin's service as a prosecutor with the Air Cavalry Brigade no doubt gives him a unique advantage as a criminal defense lawyer.
Successful Career In Military Courts-Martial:
Former Part-Time Military Magistrate.
Mr. Gapasin was also an appointed Part-Time Military Magistrate. His function was to preside over pre-trial confinement hearings and render decisions on whether or not probable cause existed. He alone determined whether the factors were present that required the pre-trial confinement of an accused. In this position, Mr. Gapasin also analyzed cases to determine the legality of the issuance of search and seizure warrants.
Former 15-6 Investigator Legal Advisor.
Mr. Gapasin also served as a Legal Advisor for 15-6 Investigators. In this role, Mr. Gapasin advised field grade officers appointed by the General Courts-Martial Convening Authority who were tasked with conducting investigations into suspected misconduct within the unit. The role of a 15-6 Legal Advisor is an important one, and Mr. Gapasin served as the legal advisor on several high profile 15-6 investigations conducted in Baghdad, Iraq during 1st Cavalry Division operations from 2006-2008.
Former Article 32 Advisor.
Also, Mr. Gapasin served as the Article 32 Legal Advisor for numerous hearing officers in a multitude of Article 32 hearings for General Courts-Martial. He also served as a Summary Courts-Martial legal advisor in a number of Summary Courts-Martial at Fort Hood, Texas.
Former Military Defense Counsel and Senior Defense Counsel.
Because of Mr. Gapasin's civilian experience as a criminal defense lawyer, he desired to focus all his efforts on Military Trials. As a result, Mr. Gapasin aggressively sought an assignment to Okinawa, Japan as a Defense Counsel. Mr. Gapasin single-handedly raised a Trial Defense Service office on Okinawa where none had existed before. He established and ran the first-ever Trial Defense Service office on Okinawa that serviced Soldiers in Okinawa, mainland Japan, and Korea. Harkening back to his past experiences as a criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas, Mr. Gapasin established a policy of aggressively contesting all cases. Mr. Gapasin developed a reputation for wargaming a court-martial from beginning to end with an aggressive cross-examination style that resulted in a number of acquittals in Okinawa, mainland Japan, and Korea. Mr. Gapasin worked a number of high-profile cases that led him to various locales in the Pacific Rim in order to conduct pre-trial investigations. In one high-profile media case, Mr. Gapasin even took depositions in the city of Manila, Philippines in order to effectively defend his client against rape charges. This resulted in the dismissal of rape charges despite the highly politicized nature of the case involving his U.S. service member client and a Filipina accuser on Okinawa.
After successfully completing his assignment on Okinawa, Mr. Gapasin returned to the Continentinal United States and accepted the position of Senior Defense Counsel at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. As the Senior Defense Counsel, Mr. Gapasin was responsible for the training of four defense counsel and four paralegals. Mr. Gapasin oversaw the hundreds of courts-martial and separation boards that were litigated at this very busy field office. Although Senior Defense Counsels are not typically expected to try cases, Mr. Gapasin broke the mold, trying a number of courts-martial as the Senior Defense Counsel, and achieving a high-rate of success in an incredibly high number of contested trials. Mr. Gapasin also achieved a full acquittal in a hotly contested rape case that was arguably only prosecuted because of the U.S. Army's overly aggressive – but indiscriminate and frequently improper – sexual assault policy. Ever grateful for his full acquittal, the client in this case successfully obtained his Med Board benefits due to injuries from an I.E.D., successfully and voluntarily retired from an honorable 14-year career, and has since become a passionate Advocate on behalf of Soldiers falsely accused of sexual assault.
Aggressive Advocacy Leads To Proven Results.
Mr. Gapasin continues to obtain outstanding results for his clients and attributes much of his success to years of experience, solid and disciplined courtroom skills, and a diligent work ethic. Mr. Gapasin faced a mandatory transition out of Military Justice due to an expected promotion to Major. Mr. Gapasin, however, desired to continue litigating in Military Courtrooms around the world, and to continue defending our military service members. As a result, Mr. Gapasin left Active Duty and opened Newsom & Gapasin, Attorneys at Law. Mr. Gapasin practices law on a global scale and will represent service members wherever they are stationed in the world. Mr. Gapasin has litigated a number of trials that have garnered high-profile media attention and that have been covered by major news outlets such as CNN, ABC News, Fox News, and even periodicals such as Rolling Stone. Mr. Gapasin also contributed to a multi-series documemntary titled, The War Comes Home, by Elliot Smith of Bloomberg News, which is about service members who deploy to war but return with serious mental and behavioral issues. Mr. Gapasin is passionate about keeping the court-martial system honest, and to ensure that all service members are treated fairly and with dignity and respect. Mr. Gapasin wants to win and dedicates his law career to making this happen.
Consider this recent recommendation by one of Mr. Gapasin's former clients:
"I highly recommend Mr. Gapasin for a few reasons. I came under investigation approximately 10 months ago for 7 specifications of mistreatment of Soldiers and 1 charge of being a sexist and degrading leader. I can honestly say I thought my career, life, and my ability to ever be a leader in the Army was over with. On top of the investigation I was treated unfairly, moved 2 hours away from my duty station and forced to endure constant abuse and mistreatment from my own (COC) while their investigaton was on going. I was also forced to sit back while my character was destroyed by younger Soldiers with less than half of my experience and rank. Early on, I was maybe like you not knowing where to turn or how to even go about finding a proper defense. I made 3 separate phone calls to civilian counsel until I spoke with Mr. Gapasin. From the beginning he assured me to follow his instructions which were simply continue to do the right thing along with DO NOT MAKE ANY STATEMENTS TO CID AND/OR THE 15-6 OFFICER. I capitalized the last statement to make it clear Mr. Gapasin has the knowledge and experience to handle your case or any case relatively speaking. It was this vast knowledge that allowed him to destroy the government's case of over 15 witnesses and multiple charges. He was also able to have the government's witnesses impeached through their own counsel. I will say up front a proper defense is an expensive one; but truly ask yourself as it is said numerous times, your investment is worth it . . . Frankly speaking the government does not care nor does your COC to ruin your life and good merit in the military. I will always be in debt to Mr. Gapasin, he is an amazing warrior for you in the courtroom." -- J.H.C. III
Experience With Federal District Judge.
Mr. Gapasin graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1996. That same year, he was accepted into the University of Missouri (Mizzou) School of Law in Columbia, Missouri. After his first year in law school, Mr. Gapasin clerked in Kansas City, Missouri under The Honorable Dean Whipple, Federal District Judge of the Western District of Missouri. Judge Whipple is a Federal Judge who is highly regarded among the attorneys in Kansas City and is considered to be one of the toughest, heavy-handed Judges in the Eighth Circuit. Because of this opportunity to work directly with Judge Whipple and his clerks, Mr. Gapasin became keenly aware of the intricacies of complex civil and criminal Federal litigation. Mr. Gapasin worked on important, high-profile Federal cases that influenced law throughout the Eighth Circuit and affected thousands of people throughout the Western District. Working on influential Federal cases from "in chambers" provided Mr. Gapasin with insight most attorneys will never experience. This position in Federal Court becomes an important chapter in Mr. Gapasin's development as a criminal defense lawyer.
Associate For Prestigious Las Vegas Litigation Firm.
In 1998, Mr. Gapasin obtained a clerking position in the oldest and one of the then-largest law firms in the State of Nevada, the Law Firm of Rawlings, Olson, Cannon, Gormley, and Desruisseaux, located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Gapasin was initially hired on as a clerk for two summers. The Partners of the firm hired Mr. Gapasin as an Associate immediately upon his graduation from law school in 1999. Mr. Gapasin was sworn into the State Bar of Nevada in 1999 and thrived as an Associate with the firm, earning respect from other Associates and Partners alike for his diligent work ethic and outstanding results.
Las Vegas Criminal Defense.
Mr. Gapasin had always desired to practice in the area of criminal defense. When the time was right, Mr. Gapasin landed a position working with legendary Las Vegas defense lawyer, Tom Pitaro. Here, Mr. Gapasin learned the technique of using aggressive, bulldog tactics to beat prosecutors in court. Pitaro is a tenacious lawyer with over 30 years of experience. His career extended all the way back to the mob days in Las Vegas, having represented several famous mobsters from the old days of Las Vegas. Mr. Gapasin continues to use many of Pitaro's techniques in Military Courts as a model for aggressive litigating that gets results.
Much of Mr. Gapasin's reputation as a relentless cross-examiner began during his career in Las Vegas. Mr. Gapasin worked on several high-profile criminal cases as a young associate. He worked on State of Nevada v. Murphy, a homicide case dubbed the Binion Murder Mystery as portrayed on CNN, Court TV and numerous other local and national television shows. Several books, such as Murder in Sin City and Quicksilver were based on this high-profile murder case involving the death of Benny Binion, an heir to the family empire that began with Binion's Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Mr. Gapasin began his career learning from the best lawyers in the city handling complex murder cases as well as difficult federal cases involving high-level drug distribution and possession allegations. Mr. Gapasin also had the opportunity to work with famed Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, on the Murphy case. The client was ultimately released from jail following a successful appeal that resulted in the overturning of her conviction two years prior.
Mr. Gapasin has also worked a high-level appellate case in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for an accused charged with smuggling millions of dollars worth of narcotics from Mexico into the United States. This appeal was complex and involved international border issues as well as cutting edge case decisions involving the presentation of drug evidence in the courtroom. Mr. Gapasin also litigated criminal immigration defense cases in Las Vegas that was appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is essentially the Supreme Court in the field of Immigration Law.
Although Mr. Gapasin found success in the City of Lights and will always be a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer at heart, he felt it was time to return to his roots to raise his family. In 2004, Mr. Gapasin was sworn in as a member of the Missouri Bar, and it was during this transition in Mr. Gapasin's career that he sought to accomplish a goal he had always desired: earning a commission to the United States Army as a Judge Advocate General. In 2005, Mr. Gapasin's application to the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps was approved and he graduated from the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia in May 2005.
2003 Tower of Strength Award, State Bar of Nevada.
Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star.
Cross-Examination in Sexual Assault Cases, Annual CONUS Trial Defense Service Conference, Tampa, Florida.
Innocence Lost: Cross-Examining Child Victims, USATDS Pacific Rim Regional Conference, Seoul, South Korea.
The Art of Taking Depositions, USATDS, Pacific Rim Regional Conference, Dongducheon, South Korea.
Missouri State Bar, Military Law Committee
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Missouri State Bar
Bar of the United States Supreme Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Nevada State Bar
United States District Court for the District of Nevada
**Licensed in Nevada and Missouri