In light of the recent controversy related to sexual assaults in the military and reform of the UCMJ, a group of law professors have drafted a sort of wish list for studies and reforms in the wake of the controversy.  Available here.  The list of professors is long and distinguished . . . so I’ll just name a few:

  • Eugene R. Fidell, Senior Research Scholar in Law and Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School; U.S. Coast Guard, 1969-72.
  • David J. R. Frakt, Visiting Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law; Lieutenant Colonel, USAFR, U.S. Air Force JAG, 1995-2005, Reserve Air Force JAG, 2005-present.
  • Eric M. Freedman, Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.
  • Diane H. Mazur, Professor of Law, University of Florida College of Law; U.S. Air Force, 1979-83.
  • Stephen A. Saltzburg, Wallace and Beverley Woodbury University Professor of Law, Co-Director, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program, George Washington University Law School. 

3 Responses to “Law Professors’ Statement on Reform of Military Justice”

  1. Zachary D Spilman says:

    These law professors – many of whose names are immediately recognizable, as they are experts in their fields – suggest radical change:

    We do not believe structural changes will cure all of the problems that have come so forcefully to public attention, but unless structural changes are made, we are concerned that our military personnel will not be receiving the kind of justice they deserve.

    Statement at 2.

    A separate legal regime should not be established for the adjudication of sexual offenses. The UCMJ is supposed to be uniform. It is unfortunate enough that there are inter-service variations on some aspects of the administration of military justice, but it would be wasteful, confusing, and potentially counter-productive to carve out any particular punitive article for an essentially separate process.

    Statement at 3.

    As a result, we recommend that the decision to prosecute a member of the armed forces for criminal conduct (as opposed to minor disciplinary offenses) be made by an independent prosecutor outside the chain of command.


    Personnel should be detailed to serve as court-martial members (jurors) by a court-martial administrator rather than a commander, to avoid concerns about jury-stacking and unlawful command influence.


    Court-martial findings and sentences should not be subject to post-trial review, approval or adjustment by commanders.

    Statement at 4.

    Military judges in each service should have uniform statutory terms of office of at least four years’ duration in order to ensure their independence and reduce the unjustifiable inter-service disparities that currently exist.


  2. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    And I don’t mean this in a negative way, but essentially the letter uses this as a platform to advocate all the Mil Jus reforms that those from the defense bar have advocated for years. Which is rather amusing given the focus on increased prosecution in Congress. Congress somehow thinks that putting lawyers in charge will result in more convictions, yet the defense bar has thought for years that nearly the opposite was true.

  3. JB says:

    So, unit is in combat, heavily engaged with the enemy.  The “court-martial administrator” orders the combatant commander and other key unit members to the rear to do their duty as members. Who trumps who?