Sunday, October 9, 2016

Is major change afoot in Canada?

Col. Robin Holman, CF
The Canadian Forces' review of the military justice system is looking at some basic issues, according to this report in The National Post. Excerpt:
Currently, [sexual] offences can be referred to either civilian court or the military court system for a court martial, depending on the circumstances. But Col. Rob[in] Holman, the Canadian Forces’ deputy judge advocate general for military justice, says that could change. 
“One of the constant parts of discussion, particularly in the context of things like sexual offences, is why does the military have to have jurisdiction over sexual offences in courts martial?” Holman said in an interview. “Why can’t it go downtown? We’ll take a look at that.” 
Holman is leading the year-long review, which was ordered in the summer by the judge advocate general, Maj.-Gen. Blaise Cathcart
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. . . And while making the system more responsive is one consideration, “I would frankly say there’s another issue, and that is resources.” 
The Canadian Forces has three full-time military judges whose sole job is to preside over courts martial. But while the Canadian Forces had 47 courts martial last year, only 11 were contested trials. Meanwhile, there are more than a dozen military prosecutors and several defence lawyers for the accused personnel. 
“Meanwhile, we have lots of other legal business that needs to be done,” Holman said. 
“So to me, it’s a legitimate question as to whether or not we would use our scarce legal resources more efficiently by redirecting them somewhere else and looking at other options.”
The article goes on to make clear that no decisions have been made yet, but obviously CF is casting a wide net in considering possible changes.

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