Friday, June 14, 2019

D-NY's MJIA redux

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has reintroduced her Military Justice Improvement Act. According to this report,
Gillibrand’s bill has 29 co-sponsors, including fellow Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

The bill also has a few Republican co-sponsors: Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.).
Someday this measure will find its way into an authorization bill and perhaps even a real floor debate rather than puppet-show hearings (if that). So BZ to Senator Gillibrand for her persistence in a worthy cause over the long haul.

One big point to keep in mind: while dismay over the incidence of sexual assault in the armed forces is what has prompted the many sponsors and supporters of this measure to decide it's time to get commanders out of the driver's seat, the mischief goes beyond sexual assault: it is structural and involves the disposition of all serious offenses. Not that the sex offenses are to be overlooked: visit the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces web page for cases decided in the current Term of Court and see how many involve sex offenses.


  1. Would Senator Gillibrand also agree to the random selection of panel members and requiring a unanimous verdict of a panel of 12? Somehow I doubt it.

  2. Why do you doubt it? Especially if the Supreme Court rules that 14th amendment due process requires unanimity, I think that would influence her. And if the Court requires at least six for non-petty offenses in civilian criminal cases, I imagine that too would get her attention. Wouldn't it be swell if SASC actually had a hearing on these issues?

  3. Because I am a cynic at heart. And because I think her motives are purely political. I don't know that she cares about due process. But hey, that's just me.

  4. I'm with Bill - she's one of my Senators. She doesn't give a rat's ass about "military justice," only using it as a platform to push her political ambitions. I've tried to talk to her "military liaison" - she's got an office here 1 1/2 blocks from me, and it's "we'll get back to you" going on 2 years.

    1. Thanks for sharing that information, Don. Unfortunately, it is what I have suspected for quite some time. I, for one, am still rather concerned about removing commanders from the process. I would be open to it in some cases, but not those involving important issues of good order and discipline in the unit and on especially on the battlefield.

    2. IF the system is going to address "good order and discipline," then Commanders must have some input. If it's a "justice" system, then I agree there's no place for them. A middle ground might be to have a commander "refer" a case to a professional prosecutor not in the chain-of-command, with the commander's recommendation(s)so the decision making prosecutor has the command's viewpoints. But, if it's a junk case, it should be junked period. The Canadian "Director of Military Prosecutions" model, seems both sensible and according to a Canadian Forces JAG friend of mine, works reasonably well.

    3. I couldn't agree more: commanders (and complainants and accuseds) should have a right to provide their views (with copies to one another) on disposition of charges.


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