This is the second post in what I hope will be a weekly series about scholarly articles of interest to military justice practitioners. Please send any tips or suggested topics to firstname.lastname@example.org
In an article published in the Air Force publication The Reporter (available here), retired Colonel James Young (who is currently the Senior Legal Advisor to CAAF’s Judge Stucky) offers ten recommendations to reform court-martial procedure. They are:
- Remove authority from the convening authority to select court members, approve the findings and sentence, grant clemency, and preside over vacation proceedings.
- Eliminate summary courts-martial and grant field grade officers authority to impose confinement for 30 days as a nonjudicial punishment under Article 15.
- Establish standing courts.
- Modify special courts-martial to judge alone trials.
- Except in capital cases, require sentencing by the military judge. The military judge should be required to impose any sentence agreed to by both the convening authority and the accused.
- Require the service Secretaries to establish a system for randomly selecting court members.
- Require all counsel to be qualified and certified under Article 27(b).
- Modify the military appellate court system by: (1) granting all accused convicted of an offense at a general or special court-martial the right to appeal to an appellate court; (2) eliminating the service Courts of Criminal Appeals; (3) changing the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces from a discretionary appellate court sitting en banc to a court comprised of panels of three judges, operating in a manner similar to the U.S. circuit courts of appeals; and (4) removing restrictions from appeals to the Supreme Court.
- Require a verbatim record for every court-martial conviction.
- Consolidate the government appellate divisions so that when counsel purports to speak for the United States, it does so with one voice.
Each suggestion is accompanied by a brief discussion.