Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Court Martial News

With all the bail out news, and trying to determine if my kids' education fund is actually worth anything, I have been derelict in my court martial news tracking. Here are some snippets, follow the links for more coverage:
  • AP reports here that a Green Beret, Master Sgt. Joseph D. Newell, was released from PTC and restricted to Fort Bragg at the request of his counsel. Newell allegedly killed an Afghani civilian and cut off the dead Afghani's ear post-mortem. The AP report suggests that the government did not capitally refer the case, though reports from his arraignment make that seem less clear.
  • The Art. 32 hearing in the case of 1st Lt. Michael C. Behenna ended last week. Behenna and a Sergeant in his Company, both with the 101st Airborne Div., are accused of shooting and killing an Iraqi detainee according to AP reports on the Art. 32 hearing, here. Again reports on whether the case could be capitally referred are conflicting.


Cloudesley Shovell said...

The last link in your post is broken.

The aside about MSgt Newell being released from PTC raises an issue that's bothered me for a long time--the PTC system under the UCMJ doesn't work well, and MJ's tend to give too much deference to IRO's. Because there is no bail, the bias ought to be towards no confinement, or at least lesser forms of restraint, rather than the current throw-em-in-the-brig approach. It's also terribly biased against enlisted personnel--it's extremely rare to see an officer in PTC even when the officer is facing many decades of potential confinement.

That was my experience anyway. Have things changed lately?

Publius said...

A military judge reviews the decisions of the commander or the IRO for an abuse of discretion. See R.C.M. 305(j)(1) and R.C.M. 305(k). That gives the IRO considerable discretion. But the accused can also raise the issue at the CCA or the CAAF.

I agree with you that the lower the grade, the more likely pretrial confinement. That should not be surprising as the higher the grade the more the accused has to lose and the more he/she is trusted.

But that seems to be the way the military functions. Read the following about the two war college students who tried to perpetrate a fraud in a paternity test to avoid paying child support. While awaiting civilian trial, the Army apparently let one retire with full benefits. Idoubt that would happen to an NCO unless they had very powerful friends in the personnel and finance communities.