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Thread: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

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    Default Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    Seriously, why even waste our time? Just let the damn wing king or queen decide everyone's fate.

    I can think of a few reasons they still do this.

    1) To make the little people feel important
    2) To make the accused think he or she is getting a fair trial
    3) So they don't look like power hungry overlords who are above, and beyond the law. (to late for that one boys, good job)
    Last edited by Joker76; 04-25-2013 at 06:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    They can only lessen the results/sentence, they can not increase the sentence or turn a not guilty into a guilty.

    Although, I agree that this system is kind of questionable....you had a panel sit for days or weeks listening to detailed testimony...they are in a much better position to judge the credibility of the witnesses than a convening authority reviewing transcripts or video.

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    I agree. As I've noted before, I favor a more traditional system for felony type incidents. This would eliminate the favoritism and allow people who have experience in criminal law to run the show, not CCs who do not.
    Newton's First Law of Motion

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    Gents, I completely agree that something different needs to be done about handling sexual assult cases and our overall response/care for legitimate victims. Every time I see the statistics or hear a female warrior's story it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach to know that it is happening amoungst ourselves. While not completely convinced yet to take the cases outside the normal UCMJ chain, I think it is worth serious consideration for the sake of transparency and consistency across the DoD.

    MM: My only issue with your comment: "...you had a panel sit for days or weeks listening to detailed testimony...they are in a much better position to judge the credibility of the witnesses than a convening authority reviewing transcripts or video." comes from having sat on the board for a case involving a young man (term used loosely) accused of assult against his wife (and the usual add-ons of disobeying orders, conduct umbecoming, etc). As board members in that case, we may have been able to make a better assessment of the individuals (wife was more at fault than him, but she wasn't the one on trail), but we felt we were only getting 40% of the story and collectively felt we could have done a better job if we had access to more information than just what was carefully crafted for our viewing.

    In the Wilk. case, opinions on his decision aside, Gen F had more information than the panel, which from what I've seen in the news about his letter to the SECDEF, is primarily what swayed his decision.

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    Overturning a conviction by a convening authority is a provision provided by the UCMJ. Is a provision that is seldomly used and one that should not have been use at all in this case. Having taken part in a court martial and I can say from experience than prosecuting a case in the military is a good excercise of law. If a person gets convicted then the appropriate appeal channels should be used and that should be it.

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    A similar provision exists in the civillian world. Even after a convict has gone through a full appeals process all the way up through the Supreme Court, they can still appeal for a pardon from their Governor or even the President. And we all know that those pardons have never, ever been used irresponsibly

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    Quote Originally Posted by loggie94 View Post
    As board members in that case, we may have been able to make a better assessment of the individuals (wife was more at fault than him, but she wasn't the one on trail), but we felt we were only getting 40% of the story and collectively felt we could have done a better job if we had access to more information than just what was carefully crafted for our viewing.
    That's an interesting point.

    What you're saying basically is that the convening authority is allowed to consider evidence that was not admissable in court.

    I'm not sure that serves justice...though I understand where you are coming from and the rules on what is and is not admissable is not always in the interests of "justice"...that the decisions of the court can only be decreased in severity not increased, certainly this leans to the advantage of the accused/convicted...nonadmissable information can be used to help him, but not hurt him.

    Not sure where that leaves the victims....interesting thought there.

    I've also been in a few court martials...twice on the panel, once as bailiff (where you get to hear everything, even stuff the panel doesn't get to hear)....I've also been a defendent in a civil trial in civilian court..and didn't like it that some of the stuff that had to be withheld from the jury.

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    The plural is courts martial.

    Many judge advocates agree with you on this and there seems to be a real chance Hagel may do something about it.

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert F. Dorr View Post
    The plural is courts martial.
    You got me!

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    Default Re: Why even have court martials if a Col and above can just overturn the results?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert F. Dorr View Post
    The plural is courts martial.

    Many judge advocates agree with you on this and there seems to be a real chance Hagel may do something about it.
    But not judges advocate! Maybe they should call it a "martial court" since that would be standard English.

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