Saturday, March 23, 2013
The Military Judicial Reform Act and The Convening Authority Conflict
Editor, the Record:
The Military Judicial Reform Act of 2013 was introduced to Congress last week by Congresswoman Jackie Speir, D-California. This bill will strip the power of a single military commander from reducing or overturning an adjudged sentence of a convicted sex offender.
Current law allows for the convening authority (mostly male) to throw out a sentence handed down from a military court-martial. The accused receive a fair trial with a jury of their peers and are provided qualified defense council at tax payer expense.
It also is important to note that the military justice system already has a robust appellate process in place to protect the accused. If convicted, they receive a sentence similar to our civilian system.
However, the findings of the military criminal proceeding must be forwarded to what is called the Convening Authority for review. The Convening Authority, which has no specialized training in criminal investigation, prosecution, victim advocacy or military law in general, has the right to reduce or simply throw out the sentence handed down by the court, without justification.
There is an effort in Congress to limit this unprecedented power that even the president of the United States is powerless to overturn. The Military Judicial Reform Act of 2013 would abolish article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and strip the power of the convening authority to be judge, jury and executioner.
As a former military police officer, I have had the misfortune of seeing victims being stripped of justice because of Article 60. We send our sons and daughters into harm's way to protect the liberties and freedoms which make our nation great.
I suggest it is our turn to stand up and protect their liberties and freedoms by supporting the Military Judicial Reform Act of 2013.
MICHAEL J. DEVILLIERS