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 ; 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.
 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).