Saturday, December 13, 2014

High Court sets aside Irish summary trial -- investigative horse must come before DMP-consent cart

The Irish Times reports that the High Court (Noonan, J.) has quashed the summary trial of an Irish soldier who had been convicted of unauthorized absence, disobedience and disrespect. The gravamen of the case was that Pte Fintan Corr had left his appointed place of duty outside the Military Justice Centre at McKee Barracks for 25 minutes to get a sandwich. (The disobedience and AWOL seem to be multiplicious.) What is interesting about the case, which is not yet on the website, is Mr Justice Noonan's invalidation of the procedure employed in bringing the matter to summary trial. According to The Irish Times:
In his High Court proceedings against the Director of Military Prosecutions, the Minister for Defence, the State and Commanding Officer of McKee Barracks, Pte Corr claimed the convictions were unfair and unreasonable and the disciplinary process was procedurally flawed.
It was claimed the CO acted in excess of jurisdiction in how he dealt with the matter.
The respondents denied the claims. The Human Rights Commission was a notice party to the proceedings.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Noonan said he was satisfied from the evidence the determination of the CO was made without jurisdiction, must be set aside and all the convictions quashed.
It was absolutely clear, under military law, the consent of the Director of Military Prosecutions to deal with certain offences summarily must be obtained after completion of the investigation, the judge said.
The respondent had submitted the consent of the DMP must precede the taking of the evidence but that would give rise to “an illogical result”, the judge said. It would mean the DMP would be asked to consent to summary disposal of charges about which he could know nothing about.
Such consent could be entirely irrelevant if the person charged opted for court martial, he added.
It was accepted the courts should be slow to interfere with matters of military law but in this case, there was a clear want of jurisdiction, he ruled.
Click here for the Irish Defence Forces' Court-Martial Diary webpage. 

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