Judicial Proceedings Panel

 

The Second Public Meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military was held on September 19, 2014 in Arlington, VA.

Arlington, VA - The second meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military (JPP) was held on Friday September 19, 2014, at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston. The meeting focused on recent and proposed changes by Congress to the rape and sexual assault provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which governs crimes committed by active duty members of the Armed Forces as well as Reserve and National Guard members when in active duty status.

During the morning session, the Panel continued its assessment of Article 120 of the UCMJ, which encompasses the Code’s provisions for rape and sexual assault offenses. The Panel first heard testimony from authorities with substantial expertise and experience in military justice, who discussed the statutory provisions and implementation guidance for the current version of Article 120, which was enacted in 2012. Next, the Panel heard fro m current and former military prosecutors and defense counsel to understand how rape and sexual assault prosecutions are working today.

Following a break for lunch, the Panel’s afternoon sessions focused on whether Article 120 should be revised to incorporate a strict liability standard for superiors who abuse their power through sexual relationships with subordinate Service members. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-14th CA) and Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-22nd FL) provided their perspectives about the scope of the problem in military training environments and the inability to adequately prosecute superior-subordinate offenses under Article 120. Representative Frankel was accompanied by a constituent from her district, who described being sexually abused as a U.S. Coast Guard trainee by her basic training instructor. Although her trainer was ultimately convicted at court-martial for his actions against her and other trainees, she expressed great concern that he was not convicted of any sexual offenses. The Panel then heard from senior military practitioners, who discussed how abuse-of-power offenses are currently prosecuted under the UCMJ and what impact a strict liability provision would have on the prosecution of offenses committed by trainers with trainees or superiors with subordinates.

In the last session of the day, the Panel heard from the chiefs of the criminal law and military justice divisions of each of the Services. The presenters discussed Service policy perspectives on the prosecution of Article 120 offenses and updated the Panel on the status of Executive Order guidance for the 2012 version of Article 120.

This meeting was held as part of the JPP’s congressionally mandated mission to comprehensively review and assess military judicial proceedings for sexual assault offenses and the impact that changes made by Congress to the sexual assault provisions of the UCMJ in 2012 have had on sexual assault cases. The next meeting of the Panel is scheduled for October 10, 2014. The JPP will continue its work through September 2017 and will provide reports and assessments to the Secretary of Defense and Congress.

For more information about the Judicial Proceedings Panel and future meetings visit the website, http://jpp.whs.mil. Requests to make public comment, submission of written comments or materials for the Panel’s consideration and any other inquiries may be directed to Ms. Julie Carson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (703) 693-3849.

 

 

 

The Third Public Meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military was held on October 10, 2014 in Arlington, VA.

Arlington, VA - The third meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military (JPP) was held on Friday, October 10, 2014, at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston. The meeting consisted of a one hour deliberation session on the current and proposed changes to the military rape and sexual assault statute (Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)) and then focused on the Panel’s mandate to review the admission of evidence of a victim’s past sexual conduct and a victim’s mental health records at pre-trial hearings (also known as “Article 32” hearings), and at courts-martial.

During the Article 120 deliberations, the Panel considered written materials received on the subject, as well as testimony about Article 120 from numerous military and civilian stakeholders during the two previous full-day JPP meetings on August 7, 2014, and September 19, 2014.

After the Article 120 deliberations, the Panel received informational briefings from two military legal experts on the use of Military Rules of Evidence (MRE) 412 and 513, which control admission of evidence of past sexual conduct and mental health records, respectively, as applied in sexual assault court-martial proceedings. The next two sessions involved presentations by civilian legal experts comparing the rape shield protections afforded victims in civilian courts with those in the military justice system as well as the admission of victim mental health records in military versus civilian legal proceedings. Next, the Panel heard perspectives about victim privacy issues from victim advocacy organizations and a civilian practitioner who represents victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

In the last two sessions of the day, senior military prosecutors and defense counsel described their experiences with the practical application of Military Rules of Evidence 412 and 513 in military legal proceedings and answered Panel member questions.

This meeting was held as part of the JPP’s congressionally mandated mission to conduct an independent review and assessment of judicial proceedings conducted under the UCMJ involving adult sexual assault and related offenses for the purpose of developing recommendations to improve such proceedings. The next meeting of the Panel is scheduled for November 1 4, 2014 and will cover the Services’ implementation of Special Victims’ Counsel Programs to provide free legal representation to military sexual assault victims. The JPP will continue its work through September 2017 and will provide reports and assessments to the Secretary of Defense and Congress.

For more information about the Judicial Proceedings Panel and future meetings visit the website, http://jpp.whs.mil. Requests to make public comment, submission of written comments or materials for the Panel’s consideration and any other inquiries may be directed to Ms. Julie Carson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (703) 693-3849.

 

 

 

The Fifth Public Meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military was held on December 12, 2014 in Arlington, VA.

Arlington, VA - The fifth meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military (“JPP” or “the Panel”) was held on Friday, December 12, 2014, at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston. The meeting focused on the military Services’ Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC) programs with input from sexual assault advocacy and support personnel, survivors and their SVCs, as well as the leaders of the military Services’ JAG Corps.

The Panel first heard from Colonel (Retired) Don Christensen, a former Air Force prosecutor and current President of Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy organization for men and women in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Colonel (Ret.) Christensen discussed the military Service SVC programs, noting that he is a strong proponent for the support SVCs provide to sexual assault survivors. He also highlighted areas of concern about the SVC programs and suggested improvements to improve their effectiveness.

In the next session, sexual assault response coordinators (SARCs) from each of the military Services provided their perspectives on the implementation of the SVC programs. SARCs work closely with victims of sexual assault, SVCs, law enforcement, commanders, and other service providers. They offered positive feedback about the SVC programs, but they also described some communication and logistical challenges.

In the afternoon, an SVC from each military Services accompanied a client-survivor to provide the Panel with first-hand insights about the SVC program and the military justice process. Clients and their SVCs provided prepared statements and answered questions from the Panel. The client-survivors described their experiences with issues such as retaliation and expedited transfers, and they explained that having an SVC representing them provided important support and ensured they had a voice in the process.

During the meeting’s final session, senior military attorneys for each of the military Services addressed the Panel. They provided their perspectives regarding recent and proposed Article 120 amendments, judge advocate staffing and resources, victims’ access to information, and their respective SVC programs.

This meeting was held by the JPP as part of its congressionally mandated mission, to conduct an independent review and assessment of judicial proceedings conducted under the UCMJ involving adult sexual assault and related offenses for the purpose of developing recommendations to improve such proceedings. The Panel’s next meeting is scheduled for January 16, 2014. The January meeting will focus on deliberations among the Panel members regarding the JPP’s upcoming initial report to the Secretary of Defense and Congress in February 2015. The JPP will continue its work through September 2017, providing reports and assessments to the Secretary of Defense and Congress in compliance with its statutory mission.

For more information about the Judicial Proceedings Panel and future meetings visit the website, http://jpp.whs.mil. Requests to make public comment, submission of written comments or materials for the Panel’s consideration and any other inquiries may be directed to Ms. Julie Carson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (703) 693-3849.

The Fourth Public Meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military was held on November 14, 2014 in Arlington, VA.

Arlington, VA - The fourth meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military (JPP) was held on Friday, November 14, 2014, at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston. The meeting began with a briefing on the Department of Defense perspective and involvement with the special victims' counsel programs implemented by each of the military services, followed by an overview of how attorneys for victims of sexual assault in civilian jurisdictions obtain information necessary to protect victims' statutory rights and legal interests.

The Panel next heard from the heads of each Service's special victims' counsel programs, who briefed the JPP on their organizations, indicators for assessing program performance, how counsel are selected and trained to serve as special victims' counsel, and practical issues they are addressing in their respective programs. Following the program managers, judge advocates who currently serve as special victims' counsel discussed their day-to-day practice and experiences and answered questions from the Panel.

The meeting's afternoon session began with a trip report from JPP member Victor Stone, who attended the week-long Army Special Victims' Counsel Training Course at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, 2014. The remainder of the meeting featured discussions with military criminal investigators, prosecutors and defense counsel, who provided the Panel members with perspectives regarding how the Services' victims' counsel programs impact different aspects of the military justice system, including investigations, prosecutions, and safeguarding the due process rights of alleged perpetrators of sex-related offenses.

This meeting was the fourth held by the JPP as part of its congressionally mandated mission to conduct an independent review and assessment of judicial proceedings conducted under the UCMJ involving adult sexual assault and related offenses for the purpose of developing recommendations to improve such proceedings. The Panel's next meeting is scheduled for December 12, 2014. The December meeting will feature sessions to hear additional perspectives regarding the special victims' counsel programs as well as an afternoon session with the senior judge advocates from the military services. The JPP will continue its work through September 2017 and will provide reports and assessments to the Secretary of Defense and Congress.

For more information about the Judicial Proceedings Panel and future meetings visit the website, http://jpp.whs.mil. Requests to make public comment, submission of written comments or materials for the Panel’s consideration and any other inquiries may be directed to Ms. Julie Carson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (703) 693-3849.

 

 

 

The Sixth Public Meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military was held on January 16, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Arlington, VA - A public meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military was held on Friday, January 16, 2015 at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.

The meeting was devoted to deliberations on the Panel’s first report, which is due to the Secretary of Defense and Congress in February. The Panel discussed topics it has considered since its first meeting in August 2014, including implementation of reforms to Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military statute concerning sex-related offenses. The Panel also discussed issues related to the implementation of the military’s special victims’ counsel programs and victim access to case-related information necessary to enforce their rights in military criminal proceedings. Finally, the Panel deliberated on victim privacy issues in military judicial proceedings, focusing on Military Rules of Evidence 412 and 513, which govern access and the use of evidence of prior sexual conduct and the mental health records of victims.

The Judicial Proceedings Panel was established by the Secretary of Defense in June 2014 in accordance with section 576(a)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The Judicial Proceedings Panel is an independent federal advisory committee tasked with conducting an independent review and assessment of military judicial proceedings for sexual assault offenses since Fiscal Year 2012, for the purpose of developing recommendations to Congress and the Secretary of Defense for improvements to such proceedings.

For more information about the JPP or future public meetings, please visit the Judicial Proceedings Panel's website at: http://jpp.whs.mil. Requests to make public comment, submission of written comments or materials for the Panel's consideration and any other inquiries may be directed to Ms. Julie Carson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (703) 693-3849.

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