MAJ Derrick W. Grace’s piece in the December Army Lawyer is my favorite kind of law review article — it reports new empirical research that expands our collective knowledge. See MAJ Derrick W. Grace, Sharpening the Quill and Sword: Maximizing Experience in Military Justice, Army Law., Dec. 2010, at 24. MAJ Grace sent a survey”to all Senior Defense Counsel and Chiefs of Justice,” receiving 107 anonymous responses detailing the military justice experience of the judge advocates in those billets. Id. at 24 n.3. Among the findings:
• “53% of TCs tried less than ten total cases; 78% prosecuted less than five contested courts-martial.” Id. at 25.
• “Forty-three percent of defense counsels responding to the survey have less than one year of MJ experience; 39% have tried fewer than five total courts-martial; and 62% have less than five contested cases (81% have less than 10).” Id. at 26.
• “Senior trial counsels (STC), senior defense counsels (SDC), and chiefs of military justice (COJ) possess much more experience, on average, than the TC and DC, but even their statistical data is troublesome. Seventy percent of STCs have less than ten contested courts-martial and 30% have less than two years MJ experience; 22% have less than five contested cases; and 44% have less than ten contested cases. Eleven percent of SDCs have less than one year total MJ experience; 11% have less than five contested cases; and 55% have less than ten contested courts-martial.” Id.
Among the changes the article proposes to deal with the Army’s dearth of military justice experience are:
• “[P]lac[ing] experienced litigators on all contested courts-martial” to ensure proper mentorship of inexperienced counsel. Id. at 31.
• Making some senior military justice positions “‘coded’ billets” requiring specified Additional Skill Identifiers. Id. at 32.
• Placing warrant officers in charge of post-trial processing. Id. at 33.
• Creation of “regional military justice practitioner (RMJP) position[s] at major installations with area jurisdictions.” Id.
The article also concludes that [p]erhaps the best way to ensure that the JAG Corps is providing quality military justice counsel is to implement a military justice career track similar to the Navy’s.” Id. at 34.