Article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice includes this requirement for a speedy trial:
When any person subject to this chapter is placed in arrest or confinement prior to trial, immediate steps shall be taken to inform him of the specific wrong of which he is accused and to try him or to dismiss the charges and release him.
Caselaw says that this language “imposes on the Government a more stringent speedy-trial standard than that of the Sixth Amendment.” But history suggests otherwise, and Article 10’s demand for “immediate steps” really just means that the Government must act with “reasonable diligence.” From time to time, military judges find Article 10 speedy trial violations. Time and again, the military appellate courts reverse. The prevailing wisdom is that Article 10 is dead.
But this wisdom was challenged in 2013 by a case that had Article 10 rise up and give us its best Monty Python impression by asserting that it’s “not dead yet.” In United States v. Wilson, 72 M.J. 347 (C.A.A.F. 2013) (CAAFlog case page), CAAF considered a 174 day pretrial delay that the military judge found at times “improper and to reflect a lack of proper diligence in a case involving a confined accused,” “not justified,” and “unusual and unjustified.” Wilson, 72 M.J. at 352. But the judge denied the appellant relief, the CCA denied the appellant relief, and then a sharply-divided CAAF denied the appellant relief, concluding:
The record reflects 115 days of delay attributable to the Government. While the Government explained much of the delay, there were several periods of unexplained or unjustified delay. Those delays appear to be the result of inattention and neglect and although they weigh against the Government, they do not weigh as heavily against the Government as they would if there was a deliberate effort to delay the case.
Wilson, 72 M.J. at 355. Despite vigorous dissents from Chief Judge Baker and Senior Judge Cox, CAAF blotted the ink from Article 10’s obituary this year, earning the Article a spot on our top ten list.
The possibility that Article 10 will rise from the dead next year is slim. CAAF is considering a speedy trial issue in United States v. Danylo, No. 13-0570/AF (CAAFlog case page), but the less “stringent” speedy trial guarantee of the Sixth Amendment is more likely to be a source of relief to that appellant than the practically mythical guarantee of Article 10.