An alter reader sent us this link to a North County Times article about Martin v. NCIS. The article reports on this intriguing exchange between Judge Hayes and DOJ’s counsel, who said the public has no right to attend court-martial proceedings:
Hayes asked Clukey, who represents the government, what constitutional rights, if any, the public has to attend military court hearings. Hayes said he wanted to know whether Martin was treated differently than the public in being denied access to the military court system.
“It is certainly a significant issue,” Hayes told Clukey.
Clukey replied that the military has “complete discretion” over how it runs its courts and that the public has no right whatsoever to attend. She said the public is granted entry by “invitation only.”
That position, of course, conflicts with R.C.M. 806 and decades of military appellate case law.
The article continues:
Rule 15.2 under the Sierra Judicial Circuit states that spectators are encouraged to attend any sessions of the court-martial unless otherwise determined by the military judge.
RCM 806 says: “In general, except as otherwise provided in this rule, courts-martial shall be open to the public. For purposes of this rule, ‘public’ includes members of both the military and civilian communities.”
Upon further questioning by Hayes, Clukey admitted she didn’t know what the military’s policy is toward public access to its courts. Hayes set a Tuesday hearing date to give her time to find out.
Of course, that issue was mooted, at least for now, when the United States informed Ms. Martin’s counsel that it would allow her to attend court-martial proceedings to the same extent that other members of the general public were allowed to attend, as we discussed here.