CAAFlog » Military Justice Reform » Military Justice Review Group

The Military Justice Review Group (MJRG) is an internal DoD working group created by the Secretary of Defense to conduct a comprehensive review of the UCMJ. I discussed the creation of the MJRG in this post. As an internal working group, the MJRG’s meetings and deliberations were closed to the public. However, the MJRG just released its first report, proposing major legislative changes to the UCMJ.

The report is 1,302 pages long, and is available here (pdf). A press release summarizing the major proposals is available here (word).

Additional materials are available on the MJRG’s website, here.

The DoD extended the deadline for the Military Justice Review Group to complete its work. The new deadline for the MJRG report recommending changes to the UCMJ has been extended to March 25, 2015, and the deadline for the report recommending changes to the MCM has been extended to September 21, 2015. Federal register notice available here.

A meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel will be held on Friday, September 19, 2014. The Public Session will begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. The meeting will occur at the Holiday Inn, Glebe and Fairfax Ballrooms, 4610 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22203. Federal register notice available here.

The DoD published proposed rulemaking to update the Department’s FOIA program. Federal register notice available here. Public comments are due by November 3, 2014.

Here is a link to Global Military Justice Reform’s post of the June 30, 2014, NIMJ submission to the Military Justice Review Group (UPDATE:  Here is the full submission).  Here is a link to the nearly empty webpage of the Military Justice Review Group being run by the DoD OGC.  As we mentioned the MJRG isn’t subject to FACA so there is no transparency requirement, but I have to say that the webpage is still pretty bad even for that low bar.

I am sure Zee will be happy see recommendation #7:

Bring the varied definitions of a “victim,” implemented in the 2013 changes to the UCMJ, into consonance as detailed in CAAFLog’s analysis of the 2013 changes.

There are five different definitions of the term “victim” in these changes, in Article 6(b), Article 32, Article 46(b), Article 60(d), and the new 10 U.S.C. § 1044e (the SVC statute).  See Zachary D Spilman’s comments: 2013 Changes to the UCMJ – Part 6: Practice notes,  available at http://www.caaflog.com/2014/01/10/2013-changes-to-the-ucmj-part-6-practice-notes/ .

My personal favorite, is #13:

13)  Amend R.C.M. 806 or 808 to provide for public and media access to court-martial pleadings and rulings in a timely fashion through adoption of the PACER system or its equivalent.  Such a system would promote transparency and would allow public and media access to court-martial proceedings in a timely fashion, goals that would enhance public understanding and confidence in the administration of military justice.

The Military Justice Review Group deadline of 1 July 2104 approaches.

If you are interested in submitting something to the Military Justice Review Group, you can email them – OSD.UCMJ@mail.mil; they have a website at http://www.dod.gov/dodgc/mjrg.html, but to put it politely at the moment it is barren.

A number of excellent proposals are out there and more to come.  Gene Fidell has drafted legislation which he terms the Ansell-Hodson Military Justice Reform Act of 2014.

One of his significant suggestions is a return to the pre-Solorio days of a service-connection requirement for court-martial.  Some of  us recollect litigating the occasional O’Callahan/Relford motions.  See, O’Callahan v. Parker, 395 U.S. 258 (1969); Relford v. Commandant, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, 401 U.S. 355 (1971).

Other countries have by legislation or judicial interpretation required a service-connection for offenses committed in the home country while the civilian courts are open.  As reported here, Morocco has adopted legislation, and Italy’s supreme court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione) has announced a rule.

By the way, I’m of the view that the President can implement this change by way of executive order through the Manual for Courts-Martial, and effectively give Sen. Gillibrand what she is asking for, at least for sexual assault offenses off base and with a civilian.

In the U.S. as in Italy such a jurisictional proposition remains a la patata bollente.

A number of folks have sent me tips with news reports, including this story from the Los Angeles Times, about a major review of the UCMJ in progress within the Pentagon. This is old news.

Back in November I wrote that SECDEF orders comprehensive review of the UCMJ. This Secretary’s review is actually one of two separate ongoing reviews of the military justice system (the other is being conducted by the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Crimes Panel, created by Sec. 576 of the FY13 NDAA).

Both reviews were discussed by the Joint Service Committee representatives at the 2014 Code Committee meeting. My notes from the meeting (and a scan of the JSC’s slide deck that was provided as a handout) are in this post from March.

Notably, the JSC reported that the folks conducting the review ordered by the SECDEF are called the “Military Justice Review Group,” and that Senior Judge Effron of CAAF will direct the Group (a fact contained in the LA Times story).