Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Military appellate jurisprudence crossing into the blue?

I know that military justice reformers -- a group that includes me -- are generally "purple." ("Purple" in this context has nothing to do with the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. It is military slang for "jointness.") But I have never shared that purple enthusiasm because I had always thought that the military justice system's shade of purple would look a lot like Army green. While there is much that the Army JAG Corps does very well, I believe that in some areas the naval justice system does things better. I had feared that in a joint military justice world, we would lose the naval service's better practices and do everything the Army way.

But now I wonder if I was seeing the wrong shade. Phil Cave has already taught us that the Air Force runs the CAAF web site. Apparently it runs the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals' site as well. Here is the web address of the Coast Guard Court's on-line opinion page: https://afls16.jag.af.mil/dscgi/ds.py/View/Collection-262. Huh -- "jag.af.mil"? Here is the web address of the newest Coast Guard Court opinion, which I plan to hyperventilate about later tonight: https://afls16.jag.af.mil/dscgi/ds.py/Get/File-86113/061220_Upham_Opinion_with_seal.pdf. Again, note the "jag.af.mil." But here's a question -- if the Air Force runs the CAAF site, the Coast Guard Court site, and the Air Force Court site, how come both the CAAF and Coast Guard sites have content from last week but the latest posted Air Force Court opinion is from 30 November?

Here's still more evidence that the Air Force has imperialistic designs on all of the CCAs. Pull up any CCA opinion on LEXIS. Let's start with the most recent opinion, the Upham case mentioned above. Now click on the Copy w/Cite feature right next to the case citation at the top of the page. A new window will open with this citation: UNITED STATES v. UPHAM, 2006 CCA LEXIS 331 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2006). It's a Coast Guard Court decision, but LEXIS's Copy w/Cite feature will tell you that EVERY CCA decision is an Air Force decision. Let's do Tingler, the most recent Navy-Marine Corps Court decision. Here's the LEXIS Copy w/Cite citation: UNITED STATES v. TINGLER, 2006 CCA LEXIS 329 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2006). ACCA gets the same shabby treatment. See, e.g., United States v. Brooks, 2006 CCA LEXIS 288 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2006). And, yes, Air Force Court opinions are correctly designated as Air Force Court opinions. See, e.g., United States v. Van Vliet, 2006 CCA LEXIS 309 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2006).
Can we get this fixed? And while we are at it, can we get LEXIS to please have Copy w/Cite put Supreme Court citations in proper Bluebook format and drop the "U.S." from the parenthetical?

I would be no more enthusiastic about purple if it meant Air Force blue than if it meant Army green. "Aim High" might be considered motivational in the Air Force, but in the Marine Corps it just means you're wasting ammo.

--Dwight Sullivan


Phil Cave said...

Concur Gene, having spent quite a few years now practicing in all of the Services, I continue to maintain my "purple" view of life: An AF/Army Judge, an Army TC, and an Army/AF DC (and AF/Army court reporters). They actually use bailiffs, and .....

Anonymous said...

Please accept my apologies for intruding uninvited (I've never posted to anyone's blog before, and I'm not sure of the etiquette), but I may be able to clear up Col. Sullivan's "huh?" about the Coast Guard opinions on an Air Force web site.

I wouldn't say the Air Force "runs" the CGCCA's web site; I think "hosts" is a more apt description. The Air Force provides the entire Coast Guard legal program (not just the CCA), with server space and document retrieval services (whether its through MOU or what, I'm not sure). The Court uses this system to post its opinions in an area accessible to the public, and Jane Lim, the Clerk of the Court, posts the CCA's opinions on the CCA's website the day they come out.


Dwight Sullivan said...

I shall rise to the defense of my service. But first, did I mention that Navy won the Army-Navy game 26-14?

Here is one example of the naval justice system doing things better. In 1993, the Marine Corps tried several capital cases at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In each of those cases, the government funded a mitigation specialist for the defense. Yet in 1996, the Army refused to provide funding for a mitigation specialist in a capital case being tried at Fort Bragg, ultimately resulting in that case's reversal on appeal. United States v. Kreutzer, 59 M.J. 773 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 2004), aff’d, 61 M.J. 272 (C.A.A.F. 2005). The Marine Corps scores! Wait a minute while I pump out the push-ups.

Dwight Sullivan said...

Thanks, Nancy -- Ms. Lim is setting a standard that should be emulated by a couple of the other CCAs!

Anonymous said...

To our esteemed colleague, LCDR Truax: Far from intruding, your presence is requested at any chance you get. You are the #1 CG Appellate Defense counsel in my book!