Article 32 Transformation in the Military Sexual Assault Justice System

The system has changed. I first came into the military in 1985. As a single enlisted Soldier I had an overseas tour in Germany. The climate of the US Army was post-Vietnam era, filled with Vietnam Era problems. Drugs and Discipline were the main concerns.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault has begun to have a significant impact on all four services. The interactions of men and women have created a fairly balanced military and has brought about positive changes in the mission of the military.

There has also been significant impact on the military justice system.  The changes to the Preliminary Hearing system has destroyed one of the protections for a military member. Formerly Preliminary Hearings, with a neutral military officer presiding, gave a raw picture of what the evidence would produce at trial. This type of opinion gave both the prosecution and defense a good idea of how valid the evidence would be at trial.

Now, Congress has replaced the system of real preliminary hearings with a “rubber stamp” straight to trial. The preliminary hearing officer is JAG officer that is really their to review the investigative matter. This is a documentary hearing where the prosecution rarely calls witnesses and the defense has no reason to call a witness. They don’t want their case to be seen at this point. Although the need for a preliminary hearing remains, they either need to serve a function or should be abolished as a pro forma and archaic view of justice.

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