Monday, May 31, 2010

Afghan military justice system

Here is a short piece by LCDR Osborne, of the NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan.
The authority of the Chief of GS Legal (The Judge Advocate General -TJAG) to provide technical oversight of the ANA Military Justice and Legal System achieved a new milestone this week with the implementation of the first Field Inspection of Corps SJA Legal Services.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

ICC Review Conference: A Briefing

Anthony Dworkin has prepared an excellent summary of the issues before the ICC Review Conference in Kampala. Many thanks to the Crimes of War Project.

Memorial Day 2010

On this Memorial Day we honor the Nation's fallen as well as those currently in harm's way.

[Ball's Bluff National Cemetery, left, near Leesburg, Virginia, is the third-smallest National Cemetery.]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NIMJ Opposes Authorizing DoD Inspector General Investigations of Attorneys Representing Guantanamo Detainees

NIMJ supports the American Bar Association's call on Congress not to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 directing the Department of Defense Inspector General to investigate attorneys representing Guantanamo detainees. You can read the press release here.

You can also find the ABA's letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee here.

ABA Opposes Authorizing DoD Investigations of Guantanamo Detainees' Lawyers

The American Bar Association is calling on Congress not to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 directing the inspector general of the Department of Defense to investigate lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees. The ABA cites the chilling effect this would have on lawyers obligated to provide "zealous and effective counsel."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Professional Responsibility

This Fall, I will again be teaching Military Justice, this time with an emphasis on professional responsibility issues. I also anticipate writing on the subject. I would therefore be grateful for copies of any formal or informal advisory rulings or opinions of the Judge Advocates General and Office of Military Commissions concerning professional responsibility and judicial conduct issues concerning judge advocates (including military judges) and civilian counsel. Privacy Act information should of course be deleted. My email address is Thanks!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CAAF Opinion Sparks Move to Change Self-Reporting Rules

In the wake of the recent Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) decision in United States v. Serianne, the Navy is considering options for changing its policy regarding the requirement that sailors report their interactions with civilian law enforcement to their chains of command. The CAAF decision and the Navy Times article are linked below.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Commissions CA an issue?

Politics Daily reports:

Amid all the attention surrounding the military trials in Guantanamo Bay, Bruce MacDonald fills an obscure but pivotal role. The retired Navy vice admiral serves as the convening authority for the military commissions, a position that some attorneys are concerned is easily susceptible to political manipulation.
New York Times reports:
President Obama’s legal advisers are considering asking Congress to allow the government to detain terrorism suspects longer after their arrests before presenting them to a judge for an initial hearing, according to administration officials familiar with the discussions.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

CAAF Proposed Rule Change

Here is a link to the Federal Register notice on the proposed rule change. Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comments are due June 10, 2010.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

JURIST reports that:
A US military judge announced tuesday that the trial of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr will begin on August 10 [scheduling order, PDF]. Army Col. Patrick Parrish also ordered pre-trial hearings on the admissibility of Khadr's alleged confession to resume July 12. Khadr's pre-trial hearings were suspended last week so that Pentagon officials could submit him to a mental health evaluation. Khadr was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 at the age of 15 after he allegedly threw a grenade that killed on soldier and injured another.

Reporters expelled from Guantanamo

Today, NIMJ co-signed a letter sent to the Department of Defense calling for the reversal of a decision to bar four journalists from covering the military commissions in Guantanamo Bay. The letter can be read here. NIMJ joined Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International in signing the letter.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

NIMJ files Amicus Brief

NIMJ filed an amicus brief in U.S. v. Medina arguing that Article 120(c)(2) is facially unconstitutional because it shifts the burden of proof on an element of the offense of aggravated sexual assault to the accused. By placing the burden of proving consent on the accused, he must prove that the complainant was substantially capable of verbally, physically, or otherwise manifesting her unwillingness to engage in the sexual activity. That is the constitutional deficiency NIMJ highlighted in the brief. The amicus can be read here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gitmo Reporting 2

Here is a Washington Post piece on the DoD decision to refuse access to Gitmo to certain reporters.

Reporting GitMo

Here is a link to an article at AFP, entitled "Pentagon bans four reporters from Guantanamo trials," which reports that several named reporters have been banned from attending and reporting on events at Guantanamo Bay.

The Pentagon said Thursday reporters from the Miami Herald and three Canadian news organizations, the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and CanWest news service, had violated a request from the military judge to keep the identity of the witness secret.

"As a result of these violations, these individual reporters are barred from returning to cover future Military Commissions proceedings," Colonel Dave Lapan wrote in an email to the reporters' editors.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Reports from Guantanamo

NIMJ sent two observers to Guantanamo Bay to watch pre-trial hearings in Omar Khadr's military commission. Omar's attorneys were arguing for the suppression of various statements made by Omar. The attorneys claim that the statements were made as a result of harsh interrogations. You can read more about the hearings here. In an interesting development that can be read here, DoD has banned four reporters from returning to Guantanamo.

NIMJ will soon be posting the observations the the observers.

CAAF Rule Changes

CAAF released the 2010 changes to the Court's rules here. NIMJ commented on the proposed rule changes in March here. NIMJ argued that Rule 21(b)(5)(G) should not be changed as proposed. That Court chose to make the change that will become effective in July.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

2010 Changes to the Manual for Military Commissions

NIMJ analyzed the changes made in the 2010 Manual for Military Commissions. The report can be found here. The majority of the changes in the Manual correspond to changes made in the Military Commissions Act of 2009. Some of the major changes in the Manual include:
  • Military Commission may not apply detention prior to the military commission as time served.
  • An added comment to several offenses regarding violations of the law of war.
  • Learned counsel required in death penalty cases.
  • Deletion of the 2007 comment that said an accused could plead guilty and receive a death senetence.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jenkins Student Writing Award

The National Institute of Military Justice is proud to announce the Rear Admiral John S. Jenkins Writing Award for Student Excellence in Military Legal Studies. The award carries a $250 prize. You can find more here.