As previously posted by “No Man,” Sen. Boxer introduced a bill to amend 10 U.S.C. 832 aka Article 32, UCMJ. The text of the bill is now available here. One thing the bill does have going for it is that it abandons any pretense of “reforming” the Article 32 investigation in its current form, and calls it what it is, or what it is proposed to be – a preliminary hearing.
The bill is similar in content to the one introduced in the house, covered previously here. The complaining witness can refuse to testify, the hearing is limited to a probable cause determination and recommended disposition, etc. However, there are a few unique provisions, including this one:
A judge advocate may conduct a preliminary hearing if the judge advocate has a grade equal to or higher than the grade of the trial counsel and, if the accused is represented by military counsel, the defense counsel who will represent the accused at the preliminary hearing.
I could see this posing a logistical problem, particularly at small bases and in light of the regionalization of some defense services. Also, and maybe I’m reading too much into this, but this provision seems to be related to Congress’ strange but persistent belief that rank structure and military hierarchy are somehow uniquely to blame for too few, in their opinion, sexual assault prosecutions.