The Military Commander As The Military Magistrate — A Second Look

With things settling down at the new home and things apparently working out with the condo (fingers crossed!), it’s time to return to writing. My latest law review article is coming along nicely (I hope), so I thought I’d jump back into my blogging.

Military commanders are afforded tremendous power over members of the military under their command, as well as the physical installations (bases) where they command. As it relates to military justice—i.e. military criminal law—the commander is essentially the mayor, the district/state attorney, the person who selects the group (venire) from which the jury comes out of, and also serves as the military magistrate. And in these areas, it is safe to say these powers are exercised broadly—and with little to no questioning of that authority. This post discusses this latter power and reviews the seminal case in this area and suggests that perhaps the legal, political, social, and military history surrounding military justice reform may not make the question so clear cut.

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(In)Famous Courts-Martial

A little more than a month ago, the Washington Post (here) and the New York Times (here) broke the story that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice prosecutors recommended that General (ret.) David Petraeus (Wikipedia) face criminal charges for allegedly providing classified information to his biographer, Paula Broadwell (Wikipedia), while he served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Because he receives retirement pay, General Petraeus could be subject to court-martial or federal prosecution.[1] After a difficult couple of weeks and weekends of work at my day job, and in honor of my first snow day of the season tomorrow, I thought I’d let my mind wander over some notable courts-martial I’ve come across in my reading and research.

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