The Navy Times reports here that “General courts-martial for the most serious offenses have fallen by nearly half, from 172 in 2005 to 94 last year. Court cases for lesser crimes have fallen by even more, according to data provided by the Navy’s judge advocate general.” Andrew Tilghman, JAG: High-op tempo may cut courts-martial, Navy Times, June 13, 2010.
The Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Vice Admiral Houck, discusses possible reasons for the decline:
The Navy’s top lawyer said the decline is across the board and not caused by a large drop in any particular type of prosecution. A key reason may be that sailors are spending more time at work and on deployment than in past years.
“These people are busy,” Vice Adm. James Houck, the Navy’s judge advocate general, said in a recent interview. “Things that people can do in garrison environment they simply can’t do in a deployed environment.”
. . . .
“If a commander is busy and has a high op tempo and realizes that he can get essentially the same result … by taking somebody to an administrative forum as opposed to a court-marital, they may elect to go that way,” the JAG said.
The article also explains:
An actual decline in misconduct is at least partly driving the decline.
For example, the number of sailors facing drug-related charges has fallen by about 60 percent since 2001, according to data. At the same time, the Navy has seen a similar drop in sailors “popping positive” when faced with random urinalysis tests — positive tests are down by about 60 percent, according to data provided by Navy Personnel Command.
. . . .
Most drug cases are resolved by nonjudicial punishment. In 2009, nearly 2,000 sailors tested positive for drug use, yet only 453 cases ended up before a judge facing a charge under Article 112A, according to data provided by the JAG and Navy Personnel Command.
h/t Phil Cave’s Court-Martial Trial Practice blog