Limit Military Commanders’ Judicial Authority

Military Justice

Target: Members of Congress

Goal: Protect service members and the public from criminals wrongfully freed from the military justice system.

An Air Force colonel was wrongfully freed after a court-martial convicted him of sexually assaulting a woman. In a rare and unexplained use of power, the colonel’s conviction was overturned by a top commanding Air Force officer. Please sign this petition calling on Congress to limit military commanders’ authority to toss out court-martial verdicts.

Air Force Col. James Wilkerson was convicted by a court-martial for sexually assaulting a woman at his home outside Aviano Air Base in Italy. After serving just four months on a Navy brig, he was freed by Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin. Acting under the military justice system’s Article 60, Franklin, the Air Force’s top commanding officer in Europe, exercised his power as “convening authority” of the court-martial to completely overturn the conviction.

In response to the case, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In response to the review he is asking Congress to restrict military commanders’ authority to toss out court-martial verdicts. Hagel is also asking to require commanders who change court-martial sentences to explain their decisions in writing.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that about 19,000 men and women suffer sexual assault each year in the military. Corruption of court-martial convictions poses not only a threat to service men and women, but civilians as well. Hagel says, “This crime is damaging this institution. There are thousands of victims in the department, male and female, whose lives and careers have been upended, and that is unacceptable.”

Please sign this petition and support Hagel’s call for limiting corruption in the armed forces by limiting military commanders’ authority, and requiring more accountability.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear members of Congress,

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is calling on Congress to limit military commanders’ authority after a colonel convicted of sexual assault was freed and his case overturned. Air Force Col. James Wilkerson was convicted by a court-martial for sexually assaulting a woman at his home outside Aviano Air Base in Italy. Wilkerson was freed after just four months by Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin. Franklin exercised his power as “convening authority” of the court-martial to overturn the conviction. Please sign this petition supporting Hagel’s call for oversight and protect service members, and the public, from dangerous convicts released illegally.

Following the Wilkerson case, Hagel ordered a review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He is now asking you, members of Congress, to limit military commanders’ authority to toss out court-martial verdicts, and require commanders who change court-martial sentences to explain their decisions in writing. “These changes would increase the confidence of service members and the public that the military justice system will do justice in every case,” Hagel said in statement announcing the initiative.

Please support Hagel’s initiative to increase oversight and accountability for top ranking commanders who have extended authorities surrounding court-martial convictions.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: armystrongstories via Yahoo

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84 Signatures

  • James Thrailkill
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Hermann Kastner
  • Frédérique Pommarat
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