Too bad, because United States v. Bartlett, __ M.J. ___, 2007 WL 942395, No. ARMY 20021244 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 29 March 2007), is a very interesting case,
As ACCA explains, the staff judge advocate in this guilty plea unpremed murder case advised the Convening Authority, "Pursuant to Army Regulation (AR) 27-10, Chapter 7, you may not detail officers assigned to the Medical Corps, Medical Specialist Corps, Army Nurse Corps, Dental Corps, Chaplain Corps, Veterinary Corps, nor those detailed to Inspector General duties as courts-martial panel members." Id.
The resulting doctorless panel sentenced LTC Bartlett to confinement for 25 years and a dismissal. (He murdered his wife at Carlisle Barracks.)
At trial, the "defense asserted Article 25, UCMJ, lacks any language authorizing limitation or amendment by the Service Secretary concerned; therefore, the Secretary of the Army improperly attempted to amend a statute via regulation when he exempted the designated branch officers from the convening authority's consideration." Id.
"In denying the defense motion for a new panel, the military judge made extensive findings and held the 'Secretary of the Army has the authority to limit, for a benign reason, the pool of officers from which the GCMCA is permitted to select court-martial members.'" Id. ACCA continued:
The military judge noted that 10 U.S.C. § 3013 created the Secretary of the Army's position and statutorily empowered him to “assign, detail, and prescribe the duties of members of the Army” and to “prescribe regulations to carry out his functions, powers, and duties ... which functions include, inter alia, organizing training, servicing, administering, and maintaining the Army.” The military judge also observed:
In excluding these officers from court-martial duty, and from nearly all other routine[,] non-[military occupational specialty]-related duties, the [Secretary of the Army] has determined that the Army's critical need for officers of their unique education, training, and experience to perform duties within their unique expertise is more important to the mission than is their service on courts-martial.
ACCA upheld the trial judge, ruling:
Appellant's contention raises the question of whether Article 25, UCMJ, limits 10 U.S.C. § 3013. At first glance, the Secretary of the Army's authority under 10 U.S.C. § 3013 may appear to conflict with Article 25(a), UCMJ, which provides: "Any commissioned officer on active duty is eligible to serve on all courts-martial for the trial of any person...." (Emphasis added.) However, this court recognized more than fifty-five years ago that the Secretary of the Army has the authority to exempt persons assigned to a particular branch from court-martial service. See United States v. Neville, 7 C.M.R. 180, 1952 WL 2530 (A.B.R.1952), rev. denied, 7 C.M.R. 84, 1952 WL 2997 (C.M.A.1952). "Except for the non-availability of chaplains for such duty (AR 660-10, para. 2), this rule [of universal officer eligibility for court-martial service under Article 25(a)] is unrestricted in the Army." Id. at 192 (emphasis added).
The Secretary of the Army determined that certain Army members are unavailable to serve on court-martial panels because of the nature of their duties. This decision affects the feasibility of their service under Army policy, not their eligibility for service under the law; accordingly, it does not run contrary to Article 25. Furthermore, the Secretary of the Army's determination regarding the feasibility of officers from certain special branches serving on courts-martial is separate from the convening authority's selection of panel members under Article 25, UCMJ.
ACCA then proceeded to accord Chevron deference to the Secretary of the Army's construction of 10 U.S.C. § 3013. The predictable consequence of the application of Chevron deference is that ACCA upholds the Secretary's decision.
I'm glad that the Kabul Klipper, who litigated the Dowty appeal, isn't around to see this one. I'll be noting in another post tonight that CAAF hasn't been granting review of many cases lately. This case seems to scream out for further review.