We are on the ABA Journal’s list of the best law blogs for 2014. Thank you to all our readers and particularly those that said good things to the ABA Journal about us. The slate of contributors this time is nearly a 100% change from the last time we received the award, which makes it particularly special. I just keep riding everyone’s coat tails, Zee.

Here is the webpage where you can vote in the “Niche” category.

22 Responses to “ABA Journal Blawg 100 – Vote (if you want)”

  1. Zachary D Spilman says:

    Thank you to all of our readers (especially those who nominated us for this list)! I hope you’ll continue to support us with your vote. 
    z

  2. k fischer says:

    So, was I really the first one to vote for you’s guys?  Awesome!

  3. RKincaid3 (RK3PO) says:

    Congrats to all of you at CAAFlog!   Keep up the grea, educational entertaining work!

  4. John Byron says:

    Well deserved!

  5. Christian Deichert says:

    65 votes for Farmer Bob, Esquire”s aggie blog.  We need to get the vote out here, folks.

  6. AFJAG says:

    For all my jousting with my defense colleagues on this site, I just cast an enthusiastic vote for CAAFLog.  This site is dedicated to military justice (even if we come at it from different perspectives), a worthy topic that I’m pleased to see the ABA Blawg list recognize.
     
    Good luck CAAFLog!

  7. Former SJA says:

    I hate to hijack a thread of well-deserved praise for CAAFLOG, but an article published today by the New York Times Magazine will be of interest to CAAFLOG readers: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/magazine/the-militarys-rough-justice-on-sexual-assault.html.  The article includes questionable statements and assertions (regardless of your view of the CCAs, it’s misguided to call the CCA judges “JAG misfits”, and LTC Morse certainly did NOT molest anyone) but recently retired Air Force Colonel Don Christensen (who was announced today as the new President of Protect Our Defenders) presents interesting insights into recent high-profile SA prosecutions.  Great fodder for pre- or post-turkey discussion!

  8. Phil Cave says:

    In addition they incorrectly report the Krusinski affair, as well as report 26000 sexual assaults, vice the extrapolation of “possibly” . . . . One wonders if the reporter merely repeated information Nancy Parrish provided him, as she is famous for factual and legal errors.  Christensen’s move might actually be good for her organization if he enforces fact checking on them.

  9. Comrade says:

    What a story.

    And he knew that under Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the convening authority even had the power to dismiss the sentence entirely. But he had never heard of that happening.

    What.

    After Kris reported Brooks, the commander, Lt. Col. Stuart Newberry, who also was there during the night of drinking, issued a no-contact order specifying that Brooks stay at least 300 feet away from Kris — a standard procedure, except that the commander also issued the same order to her, which was something Christensen had never seen happen.

    Mutual no-contact orders are common.  In fact I had one.  Given 10 minutes before taking a final exam in a class I was taking with the “victim’s” girlfriend, who also had a no-contact order and in the military.  Give you one guess who got the Article 15 and demotion, and who got off scot-free.

    He was sentenced to 45 days in jail, along with forfeiture of two months’ pay and dismissal from the Air Force….The board sided with Christensen and issued Brooks an other-than-honorable discharge — the maximum it could assign, because the court-martial jury declined to issue the more punitive dishonorable discharge.

    Because they can’t give a DD, he’s not enlisted.  Funny how getting a dismissal and then a sep board….
    Oh, that didn’t happen, seems Capt. Brooks was not given a dismissal at all.  http://www.afjag.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-130917-061.pdf
    The above link show the usual pattern of alcohol (1) Members get drunk (2) Members wake up next morning (3) U mad?  (4)  ???  (5) Jail time for cases that a civilian prosecutor wouldn’t touch.
     

  10. stewie says:

    One wonders if things would improve if there was more room for crim law specialists at the higher ranks (which would also mean more crim law time for folks at the lower ranks). Some of this is not about trials but about commanders, but some of it is about trials.

  11. RKincaid3 (RK3PO) says:

    Considering that military justice is supposed to be the JAGCs sole statutory function, Stewie’s wondering is absolutely valid.  One could expect to see a lot more MJ experience in Sr leadership and much less fru fru fields du jour like enviro, contract/fiscal, ops, etc.  
     
    Unfortunately…even if MJ was the priority JAG mission, all that experience is for naught when the legal expert advises a commander whose head is (rightly) so wrapped up in combat ops prep/training and mission effectiveness issues to the point that they ignore the legal expert with a passing, curt “noted, Judge” and they do the exact opposite–not because they are indifferent but because it is in their judgment the best thing for the unit.  Even if that decision is not best for anyone else–like the victim or the accused.  It is THE fundamental weakness of the UCMJ–unilateral commander prosecutorial authority in light of every consideration but justice.
     
    Add to that commandr’s plate other pressures like congressional UCI (ala the Sinclair trial and the Airmen Wright case) and it is no wonder that confidence in the UCMJ can be shaken by the slip-shod reporting found in that NYT article.  Indeed, the fact that so many in the public might find credible all the errors in that article reveals how shaken is the public’s confidence in the UCMJ–if they had faith the UCMJ would not be under assault now.  
     
    But the fact is that nothing can surprise the public now–and that fact alone should cause everyone to pause and realize that the time has come for the UCMJ to evolve again–just as it has on at least three prior occasions.  And each prior time resulted in the statutory diminution of the commander’s authority in justice matters totally unaccompanied by the much ballyhooed and predicted collapse of combat and military effectiveness via the loss of GOADITAF and unit cohesion.
     
    Time for it to evolve beyond what it is.  Time for it to become what the modern American service member deserves:  a just system.

  12. 5 Star says:

    I respectfully disagree with Stewie’s comment, “but some of it is about trials.” The military justice system is all about commanders – 100%. Commanders will take action to fix MilJus when commanders are held accountable for the problems. 
    It’s telling that a junior commander can ruin his or her career with minor discrepancies with regard to property during a change of command. However, a senior commander can re-traumatize a victim, imprison the innocent, discharge without proof, adversely affect lives, families, careers, as well as good order and discipline yet there are no consequences. 
    It is also noteworthy that the DoD will release investigation results about battlefield engagements such as Wanat (where they loaded blame on a 1LT but not on the superior officers that placed the 1LT in a perilous position), but the DoD will throw up barriers to transparency and disclosure with regard to MilJus particularly when attention can be focused on senior leaders. 

  13. stewie says:

    Commanders are advised by JAGs. JAGs run the trials. The idea that it’s 100 percent commanders is just plain wrong, respectfully. Sure, part of it is commanders, but to say it’s 100 percent assumes that JAGs are superfluous and their counsel never heeded. It also assumes all trials are conducted competently and expertly without mistakes.  Both assumptions are incorrect. It also assumes that all judges are experienced and make the right calls, also incorrect.
     
    We can’t fix commanders, and we can’t fix Congress, but we can fix other parts of the system.

  14. Neutron73 says:

    @Comrade:
    Thanks for the link to the USAF Sex assault convictions.  Skimming through the document, I ran across a curious conviction:  US v. Nettles, that, on first glance, seems to be a case of “buyer’s remorse”.  Don’t know all the facts, but, wow.  Talk about getting stitched up…..

  15. Zachary D Spilman says:

    Neutron73: I analyzed Nettles in a June post titled: The AFCCA rejects constitutional protections for threesomes.

    Stewie: I discussed the culpability of judge advocates in the sexual assault crisis in my March op-ed in the Baltimore Sun titled: Blame all the lawyers.

  16. Neutron73 says:

    Zach:  Thanks for that.  I guess my fears were confirmed.  It was consensual and appears buyer’s remorse set in….5 years after the fact.  Amazing the military feels it needs to legislate consensual, private sexual activity, or feels that it has the right to do so.  Some instances I can understand (you know, in that it DIRECTLY AFFECTS GOOD ORDER AND DISCIPLINE) but it seems the majority of time, in it’s a matter of who cares.  I guess the military justice system and the “holier than thou” CA’s want to ensure their subordinates don’t dare have sex with multiple people or, cherish the thought, might have sex with people not their spouses!  Hide the children!!
    So the LtCol involved got no punishment?  What?!

  17. stewie says:

    Ironically though Zach, if what you advocate against in that article happens, it might be the thing that spurns a re-look at the negative treatment of “Criminal Law Specialization” because that’s the exact scenario where specialists will be greatly needed.

  18. Comrade says:

    @Neutron73 I also was surprised – I ran into a friend of mine (McClanahan – We were enlisted together) that was court-martialed for fraternization, indecent acts etc. when he had sex with his wife while a SSGT subordinate was laying beside her after binge drinking.  We were enlisted together years ago.
     
    Wow.

  19. Christian Deichert says:

    On the tags: I see that this is the only post tagged as navel gazing, whereas all the other blawg posts are tagged as naval gazing.  I thought that was just looking at ships.

  20. stewie says:

    You say tomato, I say navel.

  21. Tami (a/k/a Princess Leia) says:

    Unfortunately, the Corps’ focus is on creating “general practictioners,” thinking it’s better for JAs to know a little bit about everything rather than to know a lot about a few things.  I think this does a great disservice to everyone involved in military justice, especially the high-vis cases when you REALLY need a criminal law expert.

  22. stewie says:

    Well, it’s also not consistently applied. Too much crim law is a problem, unless you are on the government side. There’s a clear defense negative bias when you look at the patterns of the last 3-4 years for promotion to MAJ and LTC. All the exceptions to broadly skilled when it comes to crim law seem to fall on the government side. Still, I agree with your overall point. There’s a reason why the quote “Jack of All Trades” ends with “and Master of none.”  Not leaving room for a small set of specialists I think is a short-sighted approach, particularly at a time when how we conduct crim is getting such negative focus. Not utilizing folks with a lot of defense time is equally short-sighted. Particularly when no CGs are worried about not getting their next star because of an Ad Law issue.  And I still wouldn’t be surprised if SEN Gillibrand’s bill passes in the next year or two.
     
    But it’s clearly the current approach, right or wrong, and I don’t think it’s changing anytime soon so those younger readers should diversify if they’ve already spent a tour or two in crim law if they want to get promoted and get out to operational assignments.