Sunday, September 23, 2018

Military Commissions update

From Lawfare:
Last week, the military commission in United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al. reconvened for pretrial proceedings, meeting in open session on Sept. 10, 11, and 12. The commission covered Col. Keith Parrella’s replacement of Col. James Pohl as the presiding military judge, began discovery motions, and interviewed witness Lieutenant Doug Newman.
Parrella recapped a Rule for Military Commissions (RMC) 802 conference that he held with counsel in advance of his appearance in court, in which he said that each side could conduct a voir dire and see his fitness report from his time as a Marine Corps Fellow at the Department of Justice (DOJ), but that his ruling should not be interpreted “as the commission’s position as to the appropriateness” of the parties seeking discovery. He also noted that various practices would continue from Pohl’s tenure as military judge: requiring each defendant to be at the commission for the first day of each session; scheduling courtroom breaks around prayer times, if possible; recording RMC 802 conference sessions and allowing requests for those transcripts [1]; and letting the defense attorneys meet with the defendants after afternoon sessions wrap-up each day. After he ran through the proposed schedule for the week, the attorneys briefly clarified other issues.
The post also summarizes what appears to be extensive voir dire of the judge by the parties.

An interesting piece of voir dire was questioning about the judge's death penalty or "capital" case qualifications and experience.  There has been much litigation over the years whether military defense counsel must be "death qualified" based on experience and training in defending courts-martial at which the death penalty could be imposed.  But, and Gene (or "ML") may correct me, I'm not aware of it being an issue about the military judge's qualifications to sit as the judge.
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[1] The Rule for Courts-Martial 802 is mimicked by the Commissions.  The "conference" is usually off the record, takes place in chambers, not recorded, and merely summarized on the record by the military judge.  Under the Rule, the military judge does not make rulings (although the parties could agree to that).

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sentencing quiz

A general court-martial at Fort Campbell recently convicted a soldier of rape. Without knowing more or peeking at this report, what is your best guess at the confinement portion of the sentence?

1 year
15 months
18 months
2 years
3 years
5 years
10 years
15 years

Fragrant disobedience in Uganda

[Defense attorney Eron Kilza] wondered why they should be tried in a Military court yet they are civilians. Kiiza also denunciated the Court Martial for disobeying the orders of the High court that had ordered for the unconditional release of [Emmanuel] Rwamuchyo and [Augustine] Rutayisire because of their illegal detention. He said this fragrant disobeying of court orders is a recipe for anarchy.

From this article about three Rwandan civilians behind held for military trial in Uganda

Morocco and mandatory military service

Moroccoworldnews reports:
The government announced its decision to propose bringing back 12-month compulsory military service in August.
. . .
Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi said that the military service bill might come into force at the end of 2019.
He explained that the bill will be debated in a Parliament session this week or next.
. . .
Morocco first introduced 18-month military service on June 9, 1966, in accordance with Royal Decree 137-66. Morocco reduced the length of service to 12 months in 1999. But in 2006, King Mohammed VI abolished mandatory military service.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Welcome, Montenegro!

As of a few minutes ago, Global Military Justice Reform has had its first reader in Montenegro. Welcome aboard!

Montenegro is the 183rd jurisdiction from which we have had readers.