Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Senator Gillibrand and I Finally Agree on Something

In an Associated Press release entitled, "Senators demand military justice transparency," Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Boxer, and Mazie Hirono have called on Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to implement a PACER type system where the public can log on and search filed court-martial documents.

As an attorney who has represented Servicemembers falsely accused of rape, I highly support these Senators' efforts to make the UCMJ more transparent by requiring the DoD to implement a system similar to PACER in the Federal court system.  Such measure could be used to show the real invisible war and expose some of the most outlandish trials that never should have seen the inside of a courtroom.  Based on their past official actions, Senators McCaskill and Gillibrand have senior Officers so afraid of either (1) not being promoted if the Convening Authority dismisses a case, or (2) that control over the UCMJ will be wrested from the discretion of Commanders, that pretty much every case makes it to Court-martial at a pretty significant expense to taxpayers, unit morale, the mental health of the falsely accused, and the mental health of the complaining witness. 

The public is probably unaware of some of the most ridiculous cases brought to Court-martial because Rules for Courts-martial do not require that a verbatim transcript be typed by the court reporter for full acquittals or convictions with small sentences.  When implemented, this military PACER type system should have the audio, redacted for closed sessions of the Court-martial, readily retrievable in an accessible area, so that the general public can listen to the injustices that occur when a clearly innocent man is prosecuted for a crime he did not commit based on the political pressure exerted by these Senators.  Right now, the only way an Accused can obtain the audio is through a FOIA request because no audio or verbatim transcript is made a part of the record of trial for acquittals.

Once the curtain is pulled back and the public can see what actually goes on in some of the cases, then perhaps Congress will reinstate the protections to the accused that were negated by this latest regime of victim advocates in the US Senate.  For instance, every member of the Armed services was forced to watch "The Invisible War," a biased "documentary" that was filmed  and directed by two victim advocates, Kirby Dick and Amy Zierning.  One of the stars of this movie is female Marine Ariana Klay who has been by Senator Gillibrand's side at a few press conferences regarding military sexual assault.  You can read the transcripts from the testimony of her accused rapist's Court-martial at his attorney's website here and decide for yourself whether she is credible. 

You can read the transcript from "The Invisible War" here.  Notice how the directors do not show Klay's discussions, if any, about the Court-martial in which she testified.  Her description of her "assault" are mainly in the section where the film focuses on Commanders sweeping sexual assault under the carpet.  Only in the end, is the viewer informed that the Marine she accused of rape was convicted of adultery and indecent language.  They leave out that he was actually tried and acquitted of rape, which makes it appear like he was only charged for cheating and cursing.

Had a military PACER type system been in place at the time Servicemembers were forced to watch "The Invisible War," then the press could have logged into the Court-martial docket system and viewed transcripts, heard audio, or read documents filed by defense and government attorneys to see for themselves just how disingenuous this film was since Klay's allegations did make it to a Court-martial where her alleged rapist was tried and acquitted of rape. 

It's no surprise that "The Hunting Ground" has strived to manufacture a college rape crisis; it's directors previously maligned the military in the same fashion.  Hopefully, more transparency in the military justice system will help reduce the number of Servicemembers who are wrongly accused.  Perhaps, they should also require universities to post disciplinary hearings online, as well, to ensure transparency in our colleges and universities.