Service members in pre-trial confinement for serious crimes – including rape, sexual assault and murder — would have their military pay and allowances suspended, under legislation introduced Monday.  Withheld money could end up going to the victim of the crime under the terms of the bill, HR 2777.

The Stop Pay for Violent Offenders Act is aimed at accused service members such as Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, the suspect in the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, who has continued to receive his military pay while in custody. Hasan’s trial is now under way in Texas.

So reports Military Times.  Of interest to the spouse and children of the accused:

The bill does not specifically address what would happen to the pay and allowances of a service member with a family that depended on it as the sole source of income, but this is one of the issues that could be covered by a waiver.

Of course pay stops already for those in PTC past their EAOS by statute.

17 Responses to “Stop Pay for Violent Offenders Act”

  1. Zachary D Spilman says:

    I’ve already discussed how I think the type of “serious crimes” at issue should be prosecuted in the civil justice system (where they have, for example, juries).

    Another feature of the civil justice system is bail. But there is no bail in the military justice system. So, while the accused waits in pretrial confinement, presumed to be innocent, his family that depends on his military pay (because they uprooted themselves in order to stay with the service member) should do what, exactly?

    Of course, if we create a bail process, the accused will return to full duty, where he is entitled to pay (even if past his expiration of active service).

    Those who decry the small fortune paid to the likes of Major Hasan (~$300,000 according to the article) should see that the easy “fix” is expeditious administrative separation, followed by prosecution in the civil justice system.

    Heck, someone should do the math on exactly how much money the Major pocketed while everyone argued over whether the military judge could order that Hasan shave his beard (short answer: he couldn’t).

    But this just raises the related issue of the difficulty our system routinely encounters when faced with a high-profile case… What, I wonder, is the average number of months of military justice experience of trial counsel in each of the services (or, for that matter, defense counsel)?

  2. Phil Cave says:

    In other activity — The House voted Tuesday to prevent anyone convicted of a sex crime from enlisting in the military, this time by using the power of the purse.
    http://www.navytimes.com/article/20130723/NEWS05/307230039
    I have to wonder if the Service recruiting commands didn’t already get this message.  Are they waiving sex offenders – for that matter are they waiving anything these days.  Even minor legal scrapes seem to be a bar to enlistment based on the type of inquires I and my colleagues are getting from people wanting to enlist.

  3. stewie says:

    The average case isn’t an issue.  So why are we letting one case (Hasan) drive the thinking here?
     
    Can’t disagree more Zach with anything you’ve said here.  Most of the time we get our folks through a trial quicker than the civilians do, especially when they are in PTC and most of the time the amount of money they get is minimal (compared to 300K).
     
    There’s also the whole innocent until proven guilty thing.  Now if you want to argue we shouldn’t be trying death penalty cases, I am a lot more persuadable in that arena.

  4. Dyskolos says:

    A high profile case makes a good target for Congressional posturing.  If MAJ Hasan had a wife and three children I doubt if this would be an issue.  However, the length of time it has taken to get to trial in this case is infuriating.
    I’m amused at the movement to shed jurisdiction, back in the old days the mantra was to maximize jurisdiction. 

  5. ContractLawyer says:

    I once had a client being chaptered for fraudulent enlistment.  They then switched to a BCD Special, but the Chapter 7 suspended his pay and they never turned it back on.  Pending trial he was formed to continue to perform his duties and got no pay for it.  Obviously I submitted a motion for credit, but the MJ (Hodges) would have none of it.  PTC is somewhat different because the accused is in jail, but I believe they are still required to work.  I see an issue with the statute because this could still be grounds for additional credit.  In the case I had, the accused was not in PTC and performing duties without pay.  Even with a statute, an accused in PTC could claim additional credit over and above the day-for-day that is ordinarily provided.  What if there is no conviction?  Do they get a refund?  When does the “victim” get paid?  If they are paid before trial and there is not a conviction, does the victim have to pay the money back or does the accused have to bring an action against the victim for return of the money? 
    One other thing, the availability of this compensation may be an issue that could be raised on cross examination. 
    There are a host of other issues.  The Govt could continue to delay trial to allow the pot to grow.
    One more idea, for serious crimes where the accused is in PTC, instead of feeding them, take the money that would have been spent on food and send that to the alleged victim.   

  6. Foot Soldier in the Invisible War says:

    It would literally be in the financial interest to claim sexual assualt. And Servicemembers will be financially punished before trial. This seems right and fair and just….

  7. Grey says:

    Certainly seems to be a case of being governed by the outliers.  Stewie and Zack seem to agree that at least in Hasan’s case where the death penalty is at stake it might make sense to administratively separate and have civilian authorities prosecute.  Whether good or bad, most civilian jurisdictions would allow a plea of guilty even in capital cases (which Hasan reportedly considered doing), so prosecution in civilian court might have avoided the expense of Hasan’s pay/allowances and the price of trial.

  8. bill Cassara says:

    Contract Lawyer: I have a similar issue in a case.  Please contact me off line.  Bill@courtmartial.com  

  9. Charlie Gittins says:

    I am with Grey on this one.  Some argue that false accusations are not a problem in the military.  I personally disagree, based on 25 years experience in military justice.  What a mistake it would be to provide a profit motive for accusations — it would make the bad situation we have now much worse.  I can’t think of anything that would be as stupid.  That members of Congress spend time working on trhings like this rather than solving our Nation’s real problems — like the tanking ecomomy, unemployment, unfair tax code, the deficit, and any number of real problems once again just slays me.  Who elects these nincompoops? 

  10. Ama Goste says:

    And in the “Even Worse News on the Military Sexual Assault Front” category: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/24/justice/fort-carson-sexual-misconduct/index.html

  11. k fischer says:

    Ama, 
     
    I’ve learned to not rely on the media’s account of a story after the Zimmerman trial, after Krusinski, probably again after the Sinclair court martial, etc.  It’s better to wait until all the facts are in, and the big question is how old were these females?  
     
    What are minors?  I would say under the age of 18, but 16 is legal under the UCMJ (and in Georgia where I practice).  Ironically, if the Soldiers are only 25, then 15 is legal under the close in age exception in Colorado, and if the Soldier is 17, then 13 would be legal…..but, not moral….why isn’t there a close in age exception under the UCMJ?  
     
    If it turns out that the females are 16 and the Soldiers are 19, then I wonder if CNN will report that the investigation has been dropped b/c there would be no violation under the UCMJ or Colorado law. Actually, I have a pretty good idea of what that answer will be.
     
    Oh!  And, that House Bill 2777 is pretty ridiculous.  

  12. defense hack says:

    I hope that this bill doesn’t succeed, but if successful it would raise an interesting issue. In a situation where an accused has his company commander on his side (i.e., the commander believes that the accusations are false), and the complaining witness is also a service member, could the commander order relief under Article 139? I guess it would be strange to have an accused in PTC if the company commander didn’t believe the sexual assault allegations, but it could happen if there were other reasons for the PTC, e.g., AWOL, repeated drug abuse, etc.

  13. Cap'n Crunch says:

    What surprises me here is that the sponsor and 2 co-sponsors are all former JAGs, attorneys, and really should know better.

  14. Lieber says:

    Since when do Soldiers go to PTC for sexual assault or drug offenses (except for the most violent cases)?  Are the other services using PTC willy-nilly?  PTC is extremely uncommon in the Army (and most of those are repeat AWOLs) these days.

  15. Ama Goste says:

    KF, I agree that WE don’t believe everything we read; unfortunately, I don’t think the same can be said for the average person, including legislators.  It’s like that phone commercial “It has to be true; I saw it on the internet.”

  16. some TC says:

    Lieber: I have seen the Marine using PTC quite a bit for drug cases. Often it’s misconduct that occured while restricted for another offense, but still. Have seen the Navy do it as well.

  17. Cap'n Crunch says:

    The bill may not even cover Hasan.  It covers persons “being held in confinement pending trial by court-martial or by civil authority for any sex-related offense or capital offense.”  I think there is a colorable argument that the “sex-related” language modifies both offense and capital offense.  Hasan is not being held for anything sex-related.