Monday, October 23, 2017

Comparative conviction rates: probative?

CBC News has run a substantial article about the prosecution of sex assault in the Canadian Forces. One point the piece makes is that there conviction rate for courts-martial is about half that of civilian courts. But the military data base is small -- arguably too small to permit meaningful conclusions to be drawn. Excerpt:
"The rate of conviction isn't a measure of success in any prosecution service, whether it's a military prosecution service or a civilian criminal justice system across the country," said Col. Bruce MacGregor in an interview with CBC News.
His annual reports, tabled in Parliament, show that between April 1, 2014, and March 31, 2017, there were 17 courts martial where the accused faced one or more charges of sexual assault.
Those resulted in four guilty verdicts, eight not guilty findings, four cases in which charges were stayed and one case that was withdrawn.
That amounts to a conviction rate of slightly more than 23 per cent.
In civilian courts, the rate of conviction for sexual assault was 43 per cent in 2014-15, according to Statistics Canada.

Military justice system review planned in UK

BT reports:
An independent review of the British military justice system, including the controversial use of majority verdicts in courts martial, is to be carried out, the Government has announced.

The Tory administration said the move was aimed to ensure the system “was effective as it can be for the 21st century”.

It follows calls for the court martial system to be brought into line with the civil courts, with the right for the most serious cases, such as rape and murder, to be tried by a jury and overseen by a judge.
The consultation will apparently not be conducted in public. Editor's note: that sounds like a self-inflicted wound in an era of transparency.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why was this case sent to a military court?

Suspected members of a terrorist cell have been charged in a Bahraini military court. Details here. Only a few months ago the country amended its legislation to permit such courts to try civilians. Doing so violates contemporary human rights norms.

Thailand's military courts

The Bangkok Post has published a tough column by Alan Dawson on a visit to one of Thailand's military courts, under the title "The Intimidation Game." Contrary to contemporary human rights norms, these courts can try civilians. Excerpt:
The military prosecutors don't allow lawyers in their courts but agreed to let two people from iLaw attend. They did not actually shackle them and use duct tape to ensure their silence. The iLaw representatives, however, had to wear special badges at all times, like yellow stars. This was not because they are Jews but because they are worse -- members of a human rights group.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Military Justice Act of 2016 program at GWU

Sponsored by ABA Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law, ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, ABA Criminal Justice Section, ABA GPSOLO: Military Lawyers Committee, National Institute of Military Justice, and Judge Advocates Association

November 1, 2017 | 11:30 a.m.  2:30 p.m.
Light lunch at 11:30 a.m. | Event begins at 12:00 p.m.


The George Washington University Law School Student Conference Center, Lisner Hall (2nd Floor) 2023 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20052

Opening Presentation: Legislative Background of the Military Justice Act of 2016
COL (Ret. U.S. Army) Patricia Ham, Executive Director, Military Justice Review Group

Moderator: Professor David A. Schlueter, Saint Mary’s University School of Law

Panel 1: Disposition: Offense through Trial; Articles 32 & 33; Pre-Trial Agreements
  1. COL William Smoot, Chief, Criminal Law Division, U.S. Army OTJAG
  2. LTC Sara Root, Chief, Mobile Training Team MJA 2016, U.S. Army OTJAG
  3. MAJ Wes Braun, Chief Joint Service Policy & Legislation, Military Justice Division, U.S. Air Force Legal Operations Agency
  4. LT Alexandra Nica, JAGC, Criminal Law Division, OJAG
Panel 2: Sentencing: Members, Judge Alone, and Sentencing Standards
  1. COL Peter Yob, Special Victim Program Manager, U.S. Army OTJAG
  2. LTC Jay Thoman, Chief, Criminal Law Policy Branch, U.S. Army OTJAG
  3. MAJ Wes Braun, Chief Joint Service Policy & Legislation, Military Justice Division, U.S. Air Force Legal Operations Agency
  4. LT Alexandra Nica, JAGC, Criminal Law Division, OJAG
Closing Presentation: The New Transparency: DoD Pacer-like System; Data Collection Ms. Eleanor Vuono, Member, Military Justice Review Group

RSVP by October 30, 2017 to