LexisNexis has published Military Court Rules of the United States, a compendium of the rules governing practice in the military justice system and the military commission system edited by Yale Law’s Gene Fidell.
The volume’s sheer heft is a reminder of the unnecessary proliferation of rules in our purportedly “uniform” military justice system. For example, the volume contains the separate Rules of Professional Conduct for the Department of the Navy, the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard. It includes the Joint Courts of Criminal Appeals Rules as well as the court-specific rules of the Navy-Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force Courts of Criminal Appeals. It includes the separate rules of practice for Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Navy-Marine Corps courts-martial, as well as circuit-specific rules for the Navy-Marine Corps trial judiciary. And it includes the rules for the military commission system — an entire parallel structure that could have been avoided by trying the Guantanamo cases in courts-martial, as authorized by Article 18 of the UCMJ.
In addition to the rules themselves, the volume includes a forward by Gene Fidell and provocative introductory essays, including one by professional responsibility guru extraordinaire Lawrence J. Fox and another co-authored by our very own Judge Mathews the Greatest. The book also contains a preface by, as Missy Piggy would say, moi.
I’ve suggested before that fiscal constraints will render our current military justice framework unsustainable. Increased jointness, which will create increased efficiencies, is inevitable. The Military Court Rules of the United States highlights redundancies that may prove to be low-hanging fruits in the budget tightening to come.