Sunday, June 9, 2019

Will there be fallout from the Whisenhunt case?

Col. Don Christensen,
U.S. Air Force (Ret)
The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals decision in United States v. Whisenhunt has sparked controversy. From this article in The New York Times:
Col. Don Christensen, president of Protect our Defenders, an organization dedicated to ending rape and sexual assault in the military, said military courts need to be revamped and the quality of the judges improved. 
“Congress needs to quit messing around when it comes to reforming the military justice process,” said Colonel Christensen, who is retired from the Air Force. “This is one example of many that they have allowed to go on for too long.” 
He said Congress should impose stricter requirements to become a military trial or appellate judge. “The appellate courts in the military are by far the least experienced courts in the entire country,” he said.
Interestingly, a case from the Naval Academy led to major changes in the Article 32 pretrial investigation (now known as the preliminary hearing) process under the UCMJ. Will the Whisenhunt case, from West Point, spark other changes?


  1. Wasn't Don an AFCCA judge? Is he saying that he wasn't competent to perform his duties?

  2. Wasn't he an AFCCA judge? Is he saying that he was not competent to do his job?

  3. He was selected to be an AFCCA judge; turned it down and retired. He isn't missed I'm told.

  4. What error in this decision can Colonel Christensen attribute to the absence of stricter requirements for appointments to the Courts of Criminal Appeals or else to their level of experience when compared with other American courts? As the court makes clear, its dispositive review was de novo -- for sufficiency of the evidence in accordance with UCMJ Art. 66(d)1. In effect, two juries differed on the same trial record. If anything, that invites review of the statutorily mandated standard of review.


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