Tuesday, May 8, 2018

ABA workshop report on military commissions

James E. Baker and Laura Dickinson report insightfully here for Just Security on an ABA conference last December concerning the path ahead for military commissions. Excerpt:
The Workshop considered a variety of reforms to the commissions. Although many participants did not think that the commissions should continue, participants identified a series of reforms that merit consideration and review, in particular

● Expand and/or clarify the role of the commissions’ Convening Authority using the authority and role of convening authorities within the U.S. military justice system as a model.*

● Change and expand the eligibility rules for trial judges and change the current judicial pay and tenure structure to allow both civilian and military judges to hear commission cases (as opposed to the current rules, which permit only military judges to serve).

● Mitigate or minimize procedural and appellate delay by removing the death penalty as a sentencing option.

● Enhance or eliminate the role of the Court of Military Commissions Review. This is a part-time court, with judges paid by the hour, that hears cases of first impression, interlocutory appeals, and emergency writs without settled law. A standing court could more expeditiously process these appeals. Alternatively, disbanding the Court of Military Commissions Review in favor of direct appeal to the D.C. Circuit would more rapidly result in settled law and precedent.

● Review the classification and declassification procedures (which are necessary, but slow) for efficacy.

● Provide improved “clean” facilities for secure attorney-client communications.

● Establish a central and timely website and clearinghouse for commission filings and information to enhance transparency, public knowledge, and confidence in the commission’s proceedings.
* Editor's query: does the George III-era convening authority model make any sense in this context (footnote added)?

The full text of the workshop can be found here

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