President’s remarks complicate military prosecutions

| July 14, 2013 | 15 Comments

The New York Times makes the case that President Obama’s recent remarks regarding military sexual assault cases will alter the outcome of those trials by causing “unlawful command influence”;

“Unlawful command influence” refers to actions of commanders that could be interpreted by jurors as an attempt to influence a court-martial, in effect ordering a specific outcome. Mr. Obama, as commander in chief of the armed forces, is considered the most powerful person to wield such influence.

The president’s remarks might have seemed innocuous to civilians, but military law experts say defense lawyers will seize on the president’s call for an automatic dishonorable discharge, the most severe discharge available in a court-martial, arguing that his words will affect their cases.

“His remarks were more specific than I’ve ever heard a commander in chief get,” said Thomas J. Romig, a former judge advocate general of the Army and the dean of the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan. “When the commander in chief says they will be dishonorably discharged, that’s a pretty specific message. Every military defense counsel will make a motion about this.”

And of course, civilians won’t understand the military culture and therefore, demonize the whole process when someone gets to walk free because this President doesn’t understand the military culture. And we’ll have Congress trying to alter the UCMJ because they don’t understand.

Thanks to Chief Tango for the link.

Category: Barack Obama/Joe Biden, Military issues

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  1. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Obamaman has the answers. He has the answers to stemming the flow of weapons to Mexico, he has the answers to voter intimidation, the Boston PD’s investigation of a reported burglary, the answers to security issues at our embassies, the answers to race relations, the answers to health care, homosexual marriage, abortion, saving the economy, the answers to what parts of the Constitution he’ll reject and what laws he will not enforce, international relations, especially spreading peace and democracy in N. Africa and the Middle East–so of course he has the answer to what ought to happen in sexual assault cases prosecute under the UCMJ.

  2. Hondo says:

    I’m afraid you might be right about the ultimate effect, Jonn.

    One can argue that the UCMJ gives convening authorities too much power. I never personally understood why a CMCA can even partially set aside a court-martial panel’s sentence. Since as I recall the convening authority approves trial in the first place, that’s always seemed to me like giving one person too much leeway. (“I approve the court-martial; go ahead and give him/her a fair trial. But if I don’t like the result I’ll just throw it out.”)

    But that’s a different argument, appropriate for another day. It’s also an argument that should be hashed out by people who understand both the existing UCMJ and the military vice the general public and the press.

  3. Club Manager says:

    Would this be the same President who tainted the Travon Martin case by saying, “he could have been my son?” NOT GUILTY!!

  4. Instinct says:

    Like I keep saying, if Obama didn’t shoot his mouth off about things he knows nothing about he wouldn’t have a damn thing to say.

  5. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    @3 Nah, it’s the guy who said he was against the Patriot Act until he was for it. The same guy who was for single payer health insurance until he wasn’t, the same guy who was against the surge until he wasn’t….

    You know, that guy!

  6. NHSparky says:

    You’d think a guy the lefties hold up as a “Constitutional scholar” would know better than to pull crap like this.

  7. MrBill says:

    “Unlawful command influence is the mortal enemy of military justice.”

    When a commander makes an ill-advised statement about military justice, damage control is possible. The way to do it is to make a clear and unequivocal statement that you didn’t mean it the way it might have sounded, that you expect your subordinate commanders and panel members to exercise independent judgment based on the evidence, that every case is different and must be judged individually, etc., etc. But, in order to have any chance of being effective the commander must make this statement personally; it doesn’t work to have underlings say “that’s not what the boss meant”, which is all the President has done to this point. Meanwhile, cases are being jeopardized, while the President does nothing.

  8. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    @7 While the president does nothing in the key statement my friend….that’s pretty much the modus operandi of this administration. Do nothing and pretend to have done a great deal.

  9. OWB says:

    It looks from here that they only do that which will cause the most damage to the greatest number of people while denying any involvement. Pretty much a standard leftist tactic.

  10. AtDrum says:

    This was on Military.com a month ago or so. Back when everyone was just beginning to get all SHARP ready.

  11. Green Thumb says:

    Obama’s big problem now days is that he cannot blame the previous administration for his problems.

  12. Bam Bam says:

    It’s almost by design, all the ways he keeps messing crap up. But who would do that…? Hmmm…

  13. USMCE8Ret says:

    Some SJA’s would also agree that General Amos’ “Heritage Brief” comments have had the same effect.

  14. USMCE8Ret says:

    Here’s an article that explains things rather well, IMO:

    http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/article/sexual-assault

  15. NHSparky says:

    @11–he can, and does, and still has enough idiots chugging the KoolAid by the gallon to buy into it. He SHOULDN’T, but that doesn’t stop him or the MSM from being lapdogs instead of watchdogs.

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