Thursday, April 23, 2015

Look for changes in the Kentucky Code of Military Justice

Even though Kentucky only recently updated its state code of military justice, which applies to National Guard and Air National Guard personnel when not in federal service, the state is considering further changes, including with respect to sexual assaults and the statute of limitations. Details can be found here.

Military justice on hold in South Africa

Military justice has come to a halt because the necessary judges have not been appointed. Here's the story, according to Defence Web:
The application of justice in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is on hold at present while the assignment of senior military judges is “being considered”. 
Military trade union Sandu (SA National Defence Union) earlier this week indicated its concern over what national secretary Pikkie Greeff called “the halting of military courts”. 
The union has on numerous instances taken the SANDF to court over labour related matters and has a high winning rate when it comes to judgements in favour of its members. 
“Sandu is gravely concerned that the entire Military Court system has been brought to a grinding halt due to the fact that the required letters of appointment for military judges have not yet been signed by the Department of Defence. 
“The effect is no trial can commence or continue until such time as the appointments have been finalised.

“It is astounding that the entire military justice system can be placed in jeopardy as a result of what appears to be poor or lax administration by the SANDF, who ironically are always quick to point out it needs to run a disciplined defence force,” Greeff said. 
Responding, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, the force’s director: corporate communication, said: “The process of assigning senior military judges is currently under consideration”. 
He did not indicate by when the process would be completed or when military courts would again start functioning. 
Greeff appealed to the Department of Defence to finalise the appointments as a matter of urgency. 
“Not only is the administration of military justice and discipline negatively affected, but the constitutional right to a speedy trial is also undermined,” he said.
Meanwhile, Parliament is considering a military discipline bill that would modify the country's military justice system, including creating a U.S.-style Judge Advocate General, to take the place of the current Adjutant General with respect to military justice matters. Details here

Guilty verdict in Irish officer's court-martial

Cmdt Nile Donohoe has been convicted of assaulting and insulting a superior officer in the Irish Defence Forces, but acquitted of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. The Irish Times reported:

He had originally been facing five charges when the trial began last week.
However, one was thrown out following a legal submission from defence counsel Matt Shaw, and Cmdt Donohoe was then acquitted of making a false allegation against a fellow officer knowing that allegation to be false under the direction of military judge Col Michael Campion.
The newspaper also reported:
The prosecution added that witnesses called by the defence -- namely former sergeant Davy Byrne and Airman Willie Byrne -- gave “rehearsed” evidence that was both “incredible and barely credible”. 
“Ex-sergeant Byrne didn’t give evidence, he gave a performance. It poured out of him like a Shakespearean sonnet, but poorly,” [prosecutor Lt. Col. Jerry Lane] said.
The court-martial's seven-officer board will proceed to the sentencing phase, with a presentencing hearing set for May 19.

Details and background can be found in this article from the Independent.
In 2010, Cmdt Donohoe became the first officer to be dismissed from the Defence Forces in over 20 years after he was found guilty of using threatening or insulting language to a superior officer by a court martial. He allegedly called him 'a little prick.'
But, Cmdt Donohoe’s dismissal was put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal he made to the Court-Martial Appeal Court, which he successfully won in 2012.
Cmdt Donohue also attempted to derail the latest proceedings through a last-minute application to the High Court, but that effort failed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pakistani Supreme Court adjourns hearing on military courts until April 27

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has adjourned the hearing on the military courts cases until April 27, according to this account:
Hearing against the 18th and 21st constitutional amendments and the establishment of military courts was adjourned without proceedings on Wednesday due a judge’s absence. 
Heading the 16-member bench, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Nasirul Mulk said that Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, who is included in full court, was not able to conduct the hearing due to his uncle’s demise. 
Counsel Akram Sheikh said the petitions regarding the 18th Amendment have become “ineffective” and should be dismissed. 
Supported by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali’s comment, the CJP said the court would not declare the matter ineffective by itself but the counsels could withdraw if they wanted. 
Those who want to withdraw their request regarding 18th Amendment should inform the court on next hearing, he added. 
The court adjourned the hearing till April 27 and directed counsels to file submissions on amendments till Saturday.

Mombasa High Court hears collateral attack on Kenya Navy closed court-martial

The High Court in Mombasa is hearing a collateral attack on the court-martial of 16 former members of the Kenya Navy. The accusers were convicted after a trial that was closed to the public and after only 30 minutes' deliberation. Details can be found here. From the news account:
"The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, led by its Coast head Alexander Muteti, however, said the soldiers knew the consequences of deserting the army and asked the court to show them no mercy."