Military Defense Lawyer (Former JAG Attorney) News:
As I have been writing about over the years, with regard to alleged rape and sexual assault cases (UCMJ Article 120), the broad issue plaguing the military justice system as a whole is the unrelenting external and internal pressure to sacrifice fairness, and the rights of military defendants, for a system governed by misguided public relations pressure. There is a constant stream of ill-informed rhetoric and ill-advised systemic changes that are focused on increasing prosecution success at the expense of the constitutional principles and protections on which the system was founded.
This has been seen, for example, in the confusing re-writes to Article 120, UCMJ, that have resulted in Military Judges having to instruct court members contrary to how the law was (unconstitutionally) written and enacted. It has been seen in the withholding of command disposition authority by SECDEF Panetta, the requested changes to Article 60, UCMJ, by SECDEF Hagel, the new prosecution focused programs being created in the individual military service branches (such as the SVC program in the Air Force) and the messages by members of Congress and military leaders suggesting that the military justice system fails unless sexual assault cases result in complete conviction, harsh sentence and denied clemency.
The latest example of the attempted high jacking of the military justice system, in a seemingly endless stream of examples, is Senator Claire McCaskill putting a hold on the promotion of USAF Lt Gen Susan Helms because Lt Gen Helms exercised her legal authority and set aside a sexual assault conviction based on her review of the case and her personal and professional integrity as a General Court-Martial Convening Authority.
If the public could see inside the truth of the military justice system they would be shocked by the disparity between what actually occurs within the system as opposed to the propaganda being spread by those within Congress and military leadership who have an agenda – and that agenda appears not to be ensuring the fairness of the system, but instead to seek increasingly prosecution friendly statistics regardless of the quality of evidence in these cases.
By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.