Thursday, April 30, 2015

Administrative justice for U.S. military personnel: reforms proposed for record-correction boards

Not all military justice involves criminal proceedings. Three Democratic members of the U.S. Senate (Barbara Boxer (CA), Ron Wyden (OR) and Edward J. Markey (MA)) and California Democratic Representative Jackie Speier  have proposed legislation that would, in addition to improving protection of military whistleblowers against reprisal, institute important reforms in the boards for correction of military and naval records. According to the legislators' press release about the Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act:
All too often, when a servicemember’s claim of retaliation is substantiated by an Inspector General, that individual is forced to navigate a complicated and bureaucratic records correction process at the Boards for Correction of Military or Naval Records. To ensure all applications receive fair and thorough consideration from the boards, the bill:
  • Directs military correction boards to conduct evidentiary hearings on significant cases presenting factual discrepancies that cannot be resolved without witness testimony.
  • Instructs boards to obtain relevant medical or personnel records if servicemembers make reasonable efforts but are still unable to obtain the records.
  • Requires that, to the extent practicable, administrative judges serve as presiding officers of the boards.
  • Establishes board membership as a full-time position with a 5-year term limit.
The correction boards have long been seen as needing reform. If this proposal is able to attract bipartisan support and kickstart serious discussion on Capitol Hill, that will be a very good thing.

3 comments:

  1. This is a most pleasant surprise. I take this initiative as a clear manifestation of a caring and respectful administration. A welcome reform indeed. I wish that this wind of thoughtful reform will blow north.

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  2. Not so fast, pardner! This is not an administration proposal, and indeed, I'd be surprised if they supported it. But the administration might come forward with an alternative bill that achieves some of the same goals.

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  3. Christopher ChaiMay 1, 2015 at 1:06 AM

    If this reform is to take effect, board members should expect bureaucrats standing by at their door steps and DO prepare for retaliation...Any strong backbone individuals who wants to take a lead on this?

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