So after seeing numbers 10 to 2, are you thoroughly annoyed your favorite didn’t make the list? Are you amazed that two relatively bright people could make a list this bad? Are you tired of living in the past and want to move on with 2010 news?
As to the first two questions, our list, our top 10. Buy your own bandwidth! As to the third, we are always looking for the next great Mil Jus story, firstname.lastname@example.org is always open.
Personally, I had a hard time leaving off the 2 (or 3) challenges in early 2009 to the constitutionality of Art. 2(a)(10) UCMJ–applying the UCMJ to civilians in contingency operations (here, here, and here). But, aside from that being a bit self serving, the cases amounted to little more than brief skirmishes as DOD relented in all of the cases, wisely choosing not to prosecute one of the contractors at all. JMTG cast his vote for AFCCA’s startling action in United States v. Nerad, 67 M.J. 748 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2009), setting aside a factually and legally correct conviction because it found the case to be unjust. Other stories not making the cut included the Rodriguez dust up (and here) and the Navy JAG’s action in the LT House case. Maybe JMTG can post his honorable mentions list?
So what makes a Top 10 story? Sex, drugs, . . . ok that’s every other court martial I prosecuted, so not that. What’s important for me was mass appeal and cross over interest. Probably the best way to “Top 10” appeal would be how many blogs linked to a CAAFlog story. For example, if I had to vote for a top 10 military justice story of the decade (which we won’t do) I would probably vote at least once for CAAFlog’s discovery of the Kennedy v. Louisiana mistake. See the post that started it all here. Above the fold, front page NYT coverage, divergent viewpoints, and lots of reaction from across the legal world.
As for our current crop, the recurring theme that has made headlines was the war in Iraq. Of the nine entrants, one third have been about military justice stories originating from Iraq (none from Afghanistan). While one would expect a war to dominate a legal blog dedicated to the military, I was actually surprised that so many stories centered on issues other than just crimes in theater, e.g. the SEAL story was less about the crimes and more about politics or the Behenna case focusing on detainees and American attitudes toward them.