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Lead Counsel


The Military Defender is an aggressive, professional law firm whose practice focuses on military justice and administrative law (courts-martial, active duty medical concerns, administrative boards, appeals, and correction of military records). The firm has been selected as one of the Top 10 Military Law Firms in the United States! The firm was honored for offering “diverse expertise in military justice matters, boards, and administrative proceedings.”

The Military Defender is headed by Joseph W. Kastl, a retired JAG officer who spent almost 30 years within the military legal system learning how it works … and how it does not work. He has successfully defended scores of accused service members. His practice is limited to military law, both criminal and administrative. At the time of his retirement  as a career military judge advocate, he had served almost eight years  as a respected senior  judge on the Air Force Court of Military Review. This gave him a unique insight into how the system operates – and what is required to defend and win. Recent court-martial cases have taken him to Germany, Latin America, England, and numerous State-side installations.

Mr. Kastl has prepared numerous appeals for submission to the Boards for Correction of Military Records for all branches. He has a strong track record as a winning advocate in all forums. The law firm offers a full range of investigative, medical, and technical expertise, along with ‘have law book, will travel’ capability to defend clients in courts-martial and boards anywhere in the world.

Judge Kastl has lectured at the Army JAG School at Charlottesville, VA and at the Military Judicial Conference in Washington DC. He has taught at the college and graduate school level,  as well as presenting short courses at military judges’ conferences. He has been featured on TV, including C-SPAN.

As a judge, he made significant contributions to the law. In 1983, he declared the military death penalty unconstitutional in United States v. Gay. Both Army and Navy-Marine Courts had upheld the death penalty though military practice lacked any aggravating/mitigating factors. He was correct on appeal – as he has been in virtually every decision reviewed by higher Courts. One respected retired justice specialist has called his opinions ‘the finest ever produced in the Air Force’. He has issued landmark decisions on drugs, fraternization, child abuse, and other topics   of high military significance. Mr. Kastl was twice named Air Force Major Command Outstanding Young Lawyer of the year. He has written extensively for various military and legal publications. 

Mr. Kastl is a graduate of National War College International Relations Course, Armed Forces Staff College, and Air War College. Early in his military career, he amassed over 300 credit hours in military justice courses via 45 Air Force, Army , and Navy correspondence courses. Mr. Kastl graduated from Northwestern University in 1958 with a major in English. He was a Phi Beta   Kappa. He graduated from Northwestern University Law School, where he won first place in oral argument during the Moot Court competition and edited the law school’s publication, the WIGMORE.

Mr. Kastl is licensed to practice by the State of Illinois. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, all courts of the State of Illinois, the Court of Appeals for the  Armed Forces, the Court of Veterans Appeals, and the Army, Navy-Marine, and Air Force Courts  of Criminal Appeals. In the fall of 1997, Mr. Kastl was named co-chair of the Military Law section  of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

He is married to Tish McKee-Kastl and has four children. His hobbies include music and racquetball.

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