19 October 2009

Cox Commission II Report on American military justice system released

Today the Cox Commission II Report was released. It can be found here.

There are seven recommendations: (1) Expand appeals to the Courts of Criminal Appeals ("CCA") and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ("CAAF") to make appellate review a matter of right; (2) Enact the Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2009, H.R. 569; (3) Permitting accused to waive their appellate rights in pre-trial agreements; (4) Improvement in access for defense for expert assistance during case investigation and traial; (5) Prohibit prosecutors from attacking the credentials of an expert witness if the government provided that specific expert to the defense as an adequate substantite for an expert requested by the defense; (6) require military law enforcement agencies to videotape custodial interrogations; and (7) repeal Uniform Code of Military Justice article 125 (10 U.S.C. 925)

Over on CAAFlog, Dwight Sullivan discusses the report here, and Mike "No Man" Navarre posts here.

I do applaud the Cox Commission II especially for recommendations (1), (2) and (7). However, I tend to agree with Mr. Navarre's post, in that I was expecting more given all the hype.

After reading the entire report and the appendix items, I'm left wanting more; especially on whether or not to eliminate the CCAs; whether or not to elevate CAAF to an Article III court and it sitting in panels as all other Federal Courts of Appeal; the equal protections issue of servicemembers being tried by military judges in the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force who do not have fixed terms of office whilst the Army and Coast Guard appoint their military trial and appellate judges to fixed terms of office; the increased trend in use of Correctional Custody Units in non-judicial punishments; and unlawful command influence within the military justice system and whether or not to give prosecutors more discretion as opposed to the convening authorities.

Ideally the House or Senate Armed Services Committees should be conducting a comprehensive review on the entire UCMJ. Congress has not done a comprehensive review since 1983/84 - more than 25 years ago. Alternatively, Congress should appoint a Congressionally sanctioned commission with the ability to take sworn testimony and give it subpoena power. Given the past patterns of lawmakers in Congress I do not believe any of that will happen.

Then again does the average American civilian citizen really care about how we treat our troops?

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