Here’s a link to the DOD IG’s report on post-trial processing of Navy and Marine Corps courts-martial.  The report was released on Friday.

The IG was not pleased by what he saw:

We determined that Navy JAGs have not fully accomplished their post-trial military justice mission as required in statute and regulation. There have been consistent failures in leadership, supervision and oversight at all organizational levels, impacting military justice in both the Navy and Marine Corps. The failures resulted in inadequate institutional vigilance to ensure process health and, in many instances, failures to exercise the diligence and competence required of legal professionals. Serious post-trial processing problems persisted for at least the last two decades, and some old Navy and Marine Corps cases with lengthy post-trial processing delays still find their way into the appellate courts.

. . . .

Over the last 3-4 years, many significant improvements have been instituted, including initiatives not yet completed, or still in planning or development stages. However, unless addressed appropriately, issues remain that could preclude enduring reform.

7 Responses to “Hard-hitting DOD IG report on DON post-trial processing”

  1. Christopher Mathews says:

    That’s fairly … bloody.

    The Navy and Marine Corps have generated most of the recent case law on post-trial delays, but by no means all of it. The Air Force had a significant backlog for some time, but Lt Gen Jack Rives and Col Bruce Brown, who were then the AF TJAG and Chief Judge, respectively, made a push to clear it during the mid-aughts. For the most part, they were successful.

    In some respects I’m sympathetic, because the DON clearly has the heaviest workload, with staffing that is apparently not adequate given the amount of work to be performed. On the other hand, given that this has been for some time a chronic and well-known problem, I have to wonder why the Navy is seemingly unable to do more. Is it a question of resource management, or is there something structural in the way the military justice system is organized in DON that is making this such a tough nut to crack?

  2. John Harwood says:

    Ouch. Is AMJAMS and stoplight flowcharts the answer to this?

  3. Valentine says:

    Somebody, call my former client Luke and ask him how he feels about languishing in appellate purgatory for the last 11 years!!!!

    I am sure he would agree with the IG report!

  4. Snuffy says:

    Sometimes it IS good to be in the Army.

  5. Dwight Sullivan says:

    But not this past Saturday afternoon. :-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    The tools used to track post-trial process in the Navy are and have been deficient for a very long time. I can say that with confidence without having read a single word of the IG report not contained in this blog post.

    That means I’m excited to read the report-more ammo for later. It remains to be seen whether this report will yield significant change or simple stop-gap measures. Proving that we can get by with something will be the most counterproductive solution because it inhibits a learning organization mentality devoted to process improvement (which is all this is-process; the amount of substantive analysis and original thought required in the post-trial process is minimal).

    Snuffy, I concur that “sometimes” it’s good to be in the Army. But it’s ALWAYS good to be in the Marine Corps.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Told you so:

    “Automated tracking systems have a long and troubled history in the Navy JAG. Although progress has been made since 2006, effective and timely case tracking remains an elusive objective. As recently as June 2010, the Navy and Marine Corps were still finding “lost” cases, which still must work their way through the appellate process. This situation will likely continue in the foreseeable future.

    A single court-martial tracking system should be the desired goal for the Navy and Marine Corps. If the ongoing Center for Naval Analyses study can be adjusted to include the coverage, a comprehensive study is needed to define a truly functional case management-focused tracking system to address the myriad of user data and reporting needs from field through appellate court levels in both the Navy and Marine Corps.

    Additionally, the integrated case management solutions available in the Federal courts’ Case Management / Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system should be considered This system appears to offer an off-the-shelf technology adaptable to military requirements, and has universal interest across the Service courts of criminal appeals and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The proponents include active duty, civilian, and Reserve military justice practitioners, many of whom have first-hand experience with these systems in their civilian practices. Funding and other commitment/issues, however, have stymied efforts to seriously examine the system’s utility.”

    Witness then the response (to the recommendation that JAG develop a unified Navy/Marine Corps tracking system-notably, one that provides access to an accused to monitor the progress of his case):

    “(2) While this tracking system is being developed, current systems accurately track cases—CMTIS, augmented with manual back-up checks, is a functional, real-time case tracking capability for Navy cases, and the Marine Corps CMS, a single, mandated Corpswide tracking system, provides all the visibility necessary for headquarters-level supervision and also provides an “accounts receivable” to the NMCCA for all Marine cases requiring appellate review.”

    In a nutshell, despite OTS availability, they’ll play with what they’ve got because it works for now. To paraphrase Rahm Emanuel (whose quote has gotten a lot of play lately), this is a terrible time to waste a crisis.