Monday, March 25, 2019

A senator bats .500

Responding to Sen. Martha E. McSally, former naval aviator Paula Coughlin writes here in Military Times:
We should use training and encouragement to prosecute, McSally said, “and if the commander is the problem or fails in his or her duties, [he or she] must be removed and held harshly accountable.”

Unfortunately, history shows us that the expectation that commanders will execute an impartial and fair interpretation of justice is unfounded. Commanders should, but are not required, to rely on proven tools: investigative experts, victim advocacy experts and prosecutorial experts for an informed, just outcome.

Empowering military prosecutors to lead the process and decide whether to prosecute cases, or if necessary, turn over cases to the relevant civilian justice systems, is the answer.

After years of painful silence, McSally bravely has taken steps to fix a broken justice system by disclosing her horrible rape and revictimization by her command.

What if there had been no fear of retribution and her command had forwarded her complaint to trained investigators, prosecutors and victim advocate lawyers without bias or command influence? This is the next step to make our armed services mission ready: Reform the Uniform Code of Military Justice and reverse the trends of a rape culture that is destroying our military.
Editor's comment: the issue surrounding who should make disposition decisions -- commanders (18th century) or lawyers outside the chain of command (21st century) -- is not confined to sex offenses. It is a structural issue that, while currently generating the most controversy in the context of sex offenses, exists across the board for a serious offenses under the UCMJ. The only real issue is where to draw the line in defining what offenses are minor and can remain in commanders' hands. The Manual for Courts-Martial (2019 ed.) uses one year's confinement as the guideline for defining minor offenses for purposes of the administration of non-judicial punishment (Art. 15).

A strange outcome in Spain

A whistleblower succeeds in overturning her discharge from the Spanish Guardia Civil . . . but a senior officer she accused of abuse of authority is promoted to brigadier general. Details here (en español).

Sunday, March 24, 2019

An anniversary

On this day, George III approved the 1774 Articles of War. The 1774 Articles were the model for the 1775 American Articles of War. The command-centric concept behind the 1774 Articles unfortunately continues to cast a long (and, at this late date, indefensible) shadow over American military justice. The United States clings to this British legal tradition even though the Mother Country abandoned it years ago.

Confraternities ban in the Nigerian Army

The following notice is from the Nigerian Army:
The attention of Headquarters 4 Brigade Nigerian Army has been drawn to a media publication dated 23 March, 2019.

In the said publication, it was alleged that Private Igbavbou Lucky and not Private Opiri Stephen as erroneously published was alleged to have been arrested and paraded by the State Police Command for cultist activities.

For emphasis, Nigerian Army (NA) is a professional organization with extant policies that regulates the conduct of its personnel. The NA does not allow any of its personnel to belong to any confraternity such as cult groups and related associations. Consequently, any of its personnel who crosses the red line in this regard will face the full rigours of military discipline.

The alleged case of Private Igbavbou Lucky who was arrested is an isolated case. Additionally, it is germane to state that preliminary investigation revealed that the said suspect is not a personnel of 4 Brigade Nigerian Army as erroneously stated in the said publication but a deserter from 101 SF Bn in the North East of the country since January 2019.

Thus, his conduct is a complete negation of the minimum behavioural conduct expected from a personnel of the Nigerian Army. I also wish to use this medium to appeal to journalists to verify their stories before publication in order to avoid negative reportage capable of bringing the image of the Brigade or the NA into disrepute.

The general public should be rest assured that the case will be thoroughly investigated and the military justice system will take it course.

Mohammed Maidawa
Assistant Director
Army Public Relations

Saturday, March 23, 2019

"The Code" -- coming soon to a television near you

Broadway World reports here on the first episode of the new CBS Television series "The Code," about U.S. Marine Corps military justice. Excerpt:

Operating out of Judge Advocate General Headquarters in Quantico, Captain John "Abe" Abraham is a driven prosecutor for whom becoming a Marine is a longstanding family tradition and a responsibility he treats with devotion and passion. His colleague and friend, Captain Maya Dobbins, is the fearless lead defense attorney who is never hesitant to go up against one of her own, but is also a team player if it means finding the truth. Major Trey Ferry is Abe's eloquent and wise superior officer working for the prosecution who pursues suspects with ferocity.