Monday, March 18, 2024

De-CAAF, anyone?

Last year, the Editor wrote an article titled The Case for Termination of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Naval reservist Gregory R. Hargis has responded with A Bridge Too Far: Terminating the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Would Harm National Security and Cause Inefficient Administration of Military and Civilian Justice. See what you think.


  1. The author appears not to have read the room and is profoundly uninformed about CAAF's current and future jurisdiction. [] CAAF is limited to appeals from court-martial convictions. It does not and is not likely to gain jurisdiction over the various administrative cases and issues about which he forecasts a "gloom and doom" increase in the federal court docket. A quick look at the Annual Reports will show an absence of support for the argument. Whenever someone has tried to challenge a collateral effect of a conviction in the military appellate courts, usually by extraordinary writ or complaints about post-trial confinement conditions, the CAAF has eschewed jurisdiction, interest, or told the person to go to --- a federal court judge.

    A quick look at the questions presented and granted at CAAF will show that most of CAAF's work is related to statutory interpretation, constitutional issues, and evidentiary issues (of evidentiary rules largely adopted from the rules in federal district court). Let's not be dismissive or disrespectful of judges who engage in that work, just in a different forum. Judge Sentelle was able to navigate, then CMA, cases while assigned to a number of appeals and wrote one or two majority opinions. His most recent appearance was in Chin, 75 M.J. 220 (2016), or read his opinion for the court in United States v. Rushatz, 31 M.J. 450 (1990), or how about his opinion in Lonetree, 1992 CMA LEXIS 1028, the Marine Corps embassy "spying" case.

    Lastly, it is troubling that some suggest judicial independence should shift with the winds of national security. In a sense, that is exactly what the UCMJ was intended to prevent.

  2. Donald G Rehkopf, Jr.March 20, 2024 at 3:18 PM

    "The author appears not to have read the room and is profoundly uninformed . . . ."

    Totally agree, Phil.


Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).