Military courts in the future

Why Military Courts Won’t Prevent The Next Texas Church Shooting, in Stars & Stripes, repeated in Task & Purpose.

Former airman Devin P. Kelley had choked his wife and put a gun to her head. He’d fractured her baby’s skull. He’d made threats to his commanders and he’d been committed to a mental hospital. Those acts foretold Kelley as a potential killer, experts say, and make the Air Force’s failure to enter his name into an FBI database especially egregious.

For those looking for the future of changes to the UCMJ and the MCM, there are a number of seeds in this article.

One has already taken on significant support–a specific offense in the UCMJ of domestic violence.

Another supports what’s likely coming–military judge sentencing regardless of pleas and forum choice on the merits.  Military judge sentencing is almost always the case in guilty plea cases already through a pretrial agreement.

Christensen said other mistakes in the Kelley case contributed to the tragic outcome. Gen. Robin Rand, Kelley’s court-martial convening authority, erred by allowing a military jury – with few sentencing guidelines and no experience — to sentence Kelley as part of a pre-trial agreement after he pleaded guilty.

Would such a provision lead to more naked guilty pleas?  Like my colleagues, I have sometimes advised a client to do a naked guilty plea because the convening authority was unwilling to allow members for sentencing as part of a pretrial agreement.  There are also times we have done what’s sometimes referred to as a rolling guilty plea.

A new rule of evidence similar to Mil. R. Evid. 413 and 414.

I wonder if people will look at more creative options for sentencing practice?