“The sexual assault trial of a former football player at the U.S. Naval Academy has been scheduled for March 14,” reports The Washington Post.
According to this press release from Senator Gillibrand, the Senate will vote on the “Military Justice Improvement Act” next week. The text of the bill is available here, and includes this limitation:
(4) Requirements and limitations.–The disposition of charges pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be subject to the following:
(A) The determination whether to try such charges by court-martial shall be made by a commissioned officer of the Armed Forces designated in accordance with regulations prescribed for purposes of this subsection from among commissioned officers of the Armed Forces in grade O-6 or higher who–
(i) are available for detail as trial counsel under section 827 of title 10, United States Code (article 27 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice);
(ii) have significant experience in trials by general or special court-martial; and
(iii) are outside the chain of command of the member subject to such charges.
The Associated Press reports the results of its own review of sexual assault courts-martial (alternative version of the story here), and it’s predictably haphazard:
The records, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, open a rare window into the opaque world of military justice and show a pattern of random and inconsistent judgments.
The AP analysis found the handling of allegations verged on the chaotic, with seemingly strong cases often reduced to lesser charges. In two rape cases, commanders overruled recommendations to court-martial and dropped the charges instead.
Even when military authorities agreed a crime was committed, the suspect was unlikely to serve time. Nearly two-thirds of 244 service members whose punishments were detailed in the records were not incarcerated. Instead they were fined, demoted, restricted to their bases or removed from the military. In more than 30 cases, a letter of reprimand was the only punishment.
Finally, over at the Commissions there is new pressure on the chief prosecutor, General Mark Martins, for his public comments about the commissions process. The New York Times reports:
The defense team lawyers for one of the five Guantánamo Bay detainees charged with aiding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are seeking to muzzle the chief military commissions prosecutor, saying that his comments defending the tribunals system — including in a recent “60 Minutes” interview — are unethical and that they are undermining their client’s right to a fair trial.