For starters, these lists always seem a little artificial. A lot depends on how you count issues and what you think matters. We tossed around some proposed lists and went back and forth. I’m not even sure there were ten big stories this year. But there were a few doozies that rate a tip of the hat as 2011 fades in the rearview mirror, and everyone else’s lists always have ten things. So here goes:
#10. United States v. Sweeney: 2010 was a big year for Crawford and confrontation, and 2011 promised to bring some clarity to the issue, particularly in the context of court-martial prosecutions based on urinalysis. In Sweeney, CAAF held that both the cover memorandum and the specimen custody document of the drug lab’s urinalysis packet “were plainly and obviously testimonial,” and should not have been admitted without the government having produced the analyst responsible for producing the information in the documents. It’s hard to imagine that this does anything but further suppress commands’ appetite for courts-martial in urinalysis-based drug cases.
#9. Congressional preference for military commissions: Commissions don’t get a lot of ink (er, electrons?) on CAAFlog, but when historians look back on military justice in 2011, Congress’s decision to make military commissions the tribunal of choice for detainees may seem significant. Of course the President’s signing statement suggests that then again, it may not.
#8. United States v. Manning: I’ll admit this one didn’t make my personal list at all. Nothing happened. Of course when you’re in pretrial confinement and nothing is happening, that can be a story in itself. I suspect this will be higher on next year’s list.
Over to No Man for the next three on the list.