Inspector General review of post-trial processes for court-martial record preparation and appellate review within the Department of the Navy
The committee believes that action is long overdue to analyze and correct longstanding problems with the post-trial processes for preparation of records of courts-martial and for appellate review of court-martial convictions within the Department of the Navy. The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (C.A.A.F.) in the case of Toohey v. United States, 60 M.J. 100 (C.A.A.F. 2004), established standards for assessing whether convicted service members had been denied due process under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution as a result of denial of reasonable appellate processing of their cases. Since then, a succession of Navy and Marine Corps cases, including, but not limited to, United States v. Jones, 61 M.J. 80 (C.A.A.F. 2005); United States v. Allison, 63 M.J. 365 (C.A.A.F. 2006); United States v. Moreno, 63 M.J. 129 (C.A.A.F. 2006); United States v. Dearing, 63 M.J. 478 (C.A.A.F. 2006); and, most recently, the unpublished case of United States v. Foster have addressed extremely lengthy delays in appellate review. In the Foster case, the conviction of a Marine was set aside because his conviction for rape “could not withstand the test for legal and factual sufficiency.” This Marine had been confined for more than 9 years awaiting appellate review of his case. These cases demonstrate that cognizant legal authorities in the Department of the Navy have not taken necessary and appropriate steps to ensure that the resources, command attention, and necessary supervision have been devoted to the task of ensuring that the Navy and Marine Corps post-trial military justice system functions properly in all cases.
The committee recognizes that a series of Navy Judge Advocates General have attempted to overcome the systemic challenges associated with preparing, authenticating, tracking, and forwarding records of trial from numerous commands entrusted with court-martial convening authority and ensuring that the appellate review process comports with all legal standards. The committee is convinced, however, that intervention is needed by departmental civilian and military leaders to definitively resolve these chronic administrative problems and that action should be taken immediately to resolve these issues.
The committee directs the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of the Navy, to review the systems, policies, and procedures currently in use to ensure timely and legally sufficient post-trial reviews of courts-martial within the Department of the Navy. The review shall discuss and summarize the history of problems experienced by the Navy and Marine Corps since 1990 in ensuring appropriate appellate review of general and special courts-martial and curative measures.
The principal focus of the review shall be to determine whether the resources dedicated to post-trial processes, the information and tracking systems in use, the applicable procedures and policies, and the monitoring and supervision of actions of participants in the military justice system aimed at ensuring compliance with the procedural requirements of law are adequate to accomplish the requirements for due process of law under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and applicable case law. This review should be provided to the Secretary of the Navy no later than January 1, 2010.
The committee further directs the Secretary of the Navy, in consultation with the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, no later than March 1, 2010, to submit to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives a written report on the findings and recommendations of the Department of Defense Inspector General and actions taken or planned to address these findings and recommendations. The Secretary shall include in the report his assessment of the adequacy of (1) the Department of the Navy’s processes and resources dedicated to affording legally sufficient post-trial review of all Navy and Marine Corps cases, (2) the systems in place to track courts-martial cases, and (3) means to ensure accountability and compliance with the requirements of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and applicable case law.
S. Rep. No. 111-35 at 131-33 (2009).