Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Prof. Wexler on the Military Justice Improvement Act and command-centric military justice

Professor Lesley Wexler of the University of Illinois College of Law has written a column titled Military #MeToo Justice: Is a Change Going to Come? She concludes:

So in contemplating this change in military justice [the proposed Military Justice Improvement Act], it is important to look at both sides of the ledger. The adherents of the status quo seem unwilling to acknowledge just how significantly the status quo is eroding trust in commanders. Yet some proponents of change seem unwilling to acknowledge just how significant a shift it would be to move decisions out of the chain of command for sexual assaults or for felonies more broadly. Even though trust in commanders relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault is low, it is possible things could get worse on that front if the move to attorneys not just failed to do better but actually did worse. I personally haven’t seen much in the literature either empirically from countries that don’t have a commander-centric model or theoretically that suggests that would be the case, but care must be taken to make sure that the reforms proposed both address the existing problems and don’t exacerbate them unintentionally or create new ones altogether. While the executive and legislative branches continue to hash this out, perhaps the Army Forces command experiment can provide some initial evidence on these questions.

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