Copyright (c) 1999 George Mason Law Review
George Mason Law Review
COMMENT: REFORMING COURT-MARTIAL PANEL SELECTION: WHY CHANGE MAKES SENSE FOR MILITARY COMMANDERS AND MILITARY JUSTICE
7 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 1013
One of the most controversial aspects of the military justice system is the power of convening authorities 1 to select the panel members who serve on military juries. 2 Rather than choosing panel members randomly from a representative cross section of the community, convening authorities handpick members of their commands to judge service members accused of crimes. 3 Defenders of the military justice system argue that the military administers courts-martial fairly, and that critics just do not understand military justice. 4 Recent changes in the British military justice system place this faithful response to the critics in greater doubt, however, and should prompt an examination into whether convening authorities should retain the power to select panel members for courts-martial.
The British government recently reformed its entire military justice system 5 in response to the numpage. Commission of Human Rights' holding in Findlay v. United Kingdom. 6 In Findlay, 7 the Commission held that the vast powers of British convening authorities violated Article 6.1 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. 8 Specifically, the Commission concluded that the omnipresence of convening authorities in courts-martial led to a lack of independence and impartiality within the British military judicial system. 9 The British government's ensuing reform 10 curtailed the vast powers held by its convening authorities. 11 In contrast, American convening authorities retain many of the powers that the British convening authorities lost. 12 In light of the changes to the British military justice system, the American ...
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