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Thread: Commander clemency

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    Commander clemency

    Bill would strip clemency power from commanders

    Two lawmakers introduced a bill today that would eliminate a military commander’s long-held authority to reverse a court-martial conviction, reduce a sentence or order a new trial.

    Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, put the legislation forward in response to a contentious Feb. 26 decision by an Air Force three-star general to overturn a sexual assault conviction of a lieutenant colonel at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of the Third Air Force, said through a spokesman that he did not believe there was enough evidence to merit a guilty verdict in the case despite a recommendation by his staff judge advocate that the conviction stand.

    ...

    Read the whole story here.

    Would a bill that would strip commanders’ power to overturn convictions benefit the military?

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    Senior Member RobotChicken's Avatar
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    Re: Commander clemency

    :mmph Just another way to 'demilitarize' the military of any power/control we have in an structured culture of warfare. Never heard of a civilian being imprisoned for being late/AWOL from work or Missing movement,and flat out quitting before their contract was up. Apples and Oranges....(IMO of course,do not try on Base!) :blabla

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    Senior Member CYBERFX1024's Avatar
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    Re: Commander clemency

    Quote Originally Posted by RobotChicken View Post
    :mmph Just another way to 'demilitarize' the military of any power/control we have in an structured culture of warfare. Never heard of a civilian being imprisoned for being late/AWOL from work or Missing movement,and flat out quitting before their contract was up. Apples and Oranges....(IMO of course,do not try on Base!) :blabla

    Ditto.... Good job to describe it.

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    Re: Commander clemency

    I think part of the point with this is that offenses like missing a movement, AWOL and other things can and are handled through NJP, but serious offenses like this and especially sexually based offenses should be handled differently. LTG Franklin decided to let the charges proceed and a jury found LTC Wilkerson guilty. Without even letting an appeals process (judicial) occur, LTG Franklin decided that the jury and the judge were wrong. Why did he let it proceed in the first place? Maybe having the Convening Authority lose the authority to dismiss it AFTER a conviction, but offer some form of punishment change (under the current rules).

    One of the flaws of military justice is that commanders bring the charges and victims of crimes may never get to pursue justice (such as a courts martial) because a commander decides to offer NJP. Is that fair to victims? Especially if the victim is a civilian? I certainly advocate a separate prosecutors office for military crimes (military personnel) like there is for civilians who commit crimes on military bases. Removing command influence and command interference in one fell swoop, while preserving justice for victims.

    IMHO, for what it's worth.

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    Senior Member efmbman's Avatar
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    Re: Commander clemency

    Quote Originally Posted by monarch93 View Post
    One of the flaws of military justice is that commanders bring the charges and victims of crimes may never get to pursue justice (such as a courts martial) because a commander decides to offer NJP. Is that fair to victims? Especially if the victim is a civilian? I certainly advocate a separate prosecutors office for military crimes (military personnel) like there is for civilians who commit crimes on military bases. Removing command influence and command interference in one fell swoop, while preserving justice for victims.

    IMHO, for what it's worth.
    The UCMJ is criminal - not civil. Just because a service member is administered NJP, there is nothing to prevent the civilian victim from filing civil proceedings in a civilian court. Not exactly the same thing, but there it is.
    When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk.
    -GEN Bruce C. Clarke

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    Re: Commander clemency

    Quote Originally Posted by efmbman View Post
    The UCMJ is criminal - not civil. Just because a service member is administered NJP, there is nothing to prevent the civilian victim from filing civil proceedings in a civilian court. Not exactly the same thing, but there it is.
    My point was that when a military service member commits a crime against someone on a military installation UCMJ applies and the commander has the authority to pursue charges or not. The military retains complete jurisdiction for criminal behavior. The federal courts could have jurisdiction of a civil suit for criminal behavior on a military base. Giving a commander the discretion to offer NJP for an offense that could go to courts martial denies victims (military or civilian) their day in (criminal) court.

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    Re: Commander clemency

    How could this bill that undermines a Commanders authority possibly benefit the military? If anything it would hurt the military by allowing lawmakers to influence decisions for political reasons.
    "Sure, I've been called a xenophobe, but the truth is, I'm not. I honestly just feel that America is the best country and the other countries aren't as good. That used to be called patriotism." Kenny Powers

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    Senior Member efmbman's Avatar
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    Re: Commander clemency

    Quote Originally Posted by monarch93 View Post
    My point was that when a military service member commits a crime against someone on a military installation UCMJ applies and the commander has the authority to pursue charges or not. The military retains complete jurisdiction for criminal behavior. The federal courts could have jurisdiction of a civil suit for criminal behavior on a military base. Giving a commander the discretion to offer NJP for an offense that could go to courts martial denies victims (military or civilian) their day in (criminal) court.
    True, I think it will eventually be resolved as one or the other - can't have it both ways. There have been occasions where a military member commits a crime in another country and the military lets the other country handle the criminal proceedings. It is odd how that decision is made. May be a good idea to at least take a hard look at the UCMJ. There are many parts that are severely outdated.
    When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk.
    -GEN Bruce C. Clarke

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    Re: Commander clemency

    Quote Originally Posted by efmbman View Post
    True, I think it will eventually be resolved as one or the other - can't have it both ways. There have been occasions where a military member commits a crime in another country and the military lets the other country handle the criminal proceedings. It is odd how that decision is made. May be a good idea to at least take a hard look at the UCMJ. There are many parts that are severely outdated.
    I agree with you whole-heartedly. It's not only overseas where those decisions are made. When service members commit crimes off post, there is dual jurisdiction (UCMJ and civilian) and many times the military cedes jurisdiction to the civilians. Years ago when we were in Kansas I supervised a Soldier who was arrested for possession of cocaine off base. The military let the state prosecute him and once he was convicted, the military initiated administrative action to reduce him in grade for the conviction. He went from SFC (E7) to PV1 (E1) and then because he had his 20 years he was retired. Ouch!

    Another high profile incident was the MSG from Fort Bragg who was arrested for killing an Air Force wife and two children in Fayetteville. The Army let North Carolina try him (more than once) and he was eventually acquitted, served his years, retired and once they got DNA evidence the military recalled him to active duty and convicted him. In that case I think that the military should not have been permitted to do it because they ceded jurisdiction to the state. Giving up jurisdiction was the Army's choice.

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    Senior Member RobotChicken's Avatar
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    Re: Commander clemency

    :tape2 Well how about the case in Norfolk,VA were a sailor was involved with a DUI and claimed he was 'distracted' by a passenger and had the crash by Depaul Med Center and the NAVY wasn't happy with that in Civil Court and went after him with the death and injuries with shipmates?? JAG officers DO NOT have YOUR interest in mind..just a number of convictions to General or Admiral! (or to the next DA at a city near you..good luck 'WP') hwell

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