Monday, June 23, 2008

Civilian contractor's court-martial produces sub-jurisdictional sentence

The No Man called my attention to this press release from Multi-National Force - Iraq announcing the guilty plea and conviction of the civilian contractor tried by court-martial.

The press release observed, "He will continue to be afforded all the post-trial and appellate rights provided to servicemembers." But that might not mean much. Mr. Ali's sentence was confinement for five months. Such a sentence doesn't bring his conviction within the relevant Court of Criminal Appeals' Article 66 jurisdiction. So absent referral of his case to a CCA by the relevant Judge Advocate General, Mr. Ali's first-ever conviction under the recent expansion of Article 2 will never be reviewed by any court.


Cloudesley Shovell said...

I would dare say that civilians like Mr. Ali will, as a practical matter, have fewer appellate rights that servicemembers.

In the vast majority of cases, appellate review is triggered by the punitive discharge, not the confinement. Since civilians cannot be sentenced to a punitive separation, the only way such a case will be reviewed is if the approved sentence includes a year or more of confinement.

If a case is serious enough to where a sentence of more than a year is likely, my guess is such cases will be considered under MEJA before a court-martial.

It will be interesting to see what happens when (or if) a civilian case reaches the military appellate courts.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering who it was that actually ordered the contractor into confinement since, per RCM 1101(b)(2), only the accused's "commander" has that authority. Does a contractor even have a "commander" for the purposes of the rule?

If not, the sentence to confinement could be wholly legal, but there would be no mechanism for carrying it into effect. Maybe a writ's in order?

Tony Cossio said...

Hmmm....You know, you guys act like these situations have not reared it's head before. I seem to remember two cases involving civilian sentences.....One for a woman dependant who killed her husband (I think the sentence was reduced to three years). And a pair of Polish soldiers given american pay for contract work. These are old cases that I read while I was enjoying my stay at the NAS BRIG in Pensacola