Sunday, January 3, 2021

How has COVID affected the conduct of courts-martial

All but three (U.S.) Navy bases have reinstated their travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pentagon announced Wednesday as military infections surpass 105,000.

As of Monday, 59 out of 62 naval bases had travel restrictions reinstated, according to a Pentagon document released Wednesday. The only U.S. naval bases that have lifted their travel restrictions are located overseas: Naval Station Rota in Spain, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
This of course impacts the conduct of courts-martial--travel by defense counsel from other bases and the travel of witness both military and civilian.

Since July, The Army, Navy, and Marine Corps had been conducting courts-martial. And the Army and Navy-Marine Corps courts of criminal appeals had restarted in-person oral arguments, as did  CAAF in September.

The accused, the Government, and victims all have an interest in speedy trials, especially so for those accused's in pretrial confinement.

An accused in pretrial confinement has a "right" to speedy trial, normally within 120 days of being confined. This right is effected through Article 10, UCMJ. For those not in pretrial confinement they still have the right under R.C.M. 707 to a trial within 120 days but the reasons for delay are looked at with less scrutiny. Each accused is of course is also covered by the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial; and charges can be dismissed if there is unreasonable delay and a showing of prejudice.

These delayed cases will likely be given priority for rescheduling. So there is a knock-on effect for new cases as they enter the system.

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