Monday, June 6, 2016

An insider's look at the changing landscape of the Canadian Court Martial Appeal Court

The Canadian Lawyers's Weekly published a long exposé on the role and functions of the Court Martial Appeal Court (CMAC) of Canada. It features an interview with the recently appointed Chief Justice of the CMAC, the Honourable Richard Bell.  The article focuses, however, on the disciplining of military judges as provided for in section 165.31(1) of the National Defence Act. This section establishes a Military Judges Inquiry Committee to which the Chief Justice of the CMAC must appoint three (3) judges of the CMAC. The creation of such an inquiry is required on receipt of a request in writing made by the Minister of National Defence or any allegation or complaint made in writing in respect of a military judge. It also reveals details of a recent complaint filed by the Chief of Staff to the Judge Advocate General, Major-General Blaise Cathcart, against the Chief Military Judge Mario Dutil

The article also reports on the creation of a separate CMAC Rules Committee chaired by the Honourable Patrick Gleeson (a designated judge of the CMAC - who immediately prior to his appointment to the Federal Court of Canada on May 28, 2015 served as in the rank of colonel as a military lawyer in the Office of the Judge Advocate General at National Defence Headquarters. Of note, this stands in sharp contrast with article 142 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice which, to underscore the civilian nature of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, provides that judges be "appointed from civilian life," meaning that a person may not be appointed as a judge to the Court within seven years after retirement from active duty.

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