Exploring the Impact of the NDAA FY 2023 on Military Justice

gavel and scales of justice

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 brings about several changes to the military justice system that will significantly impact how cases are handled and decided. These changes aim to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the military justice system.

In this article, the Norfolk military lawyers at The Griffin Law Firm discuss the new rules that relate to military justice for servicemen and women. We'll tell you these changes and how they might affect you or a loved one.

Additional Covered Offenses

One of the critical changes in the NDAA FY 2023 is the addition of additional covered offenses to those over which the newly established Office of Special Trial Counsel will exercise authority. Some of these new crimes include hurting an unborn child, sending offensive or inappropriate mail, and sexual harassment. Now, the Office of Special Trial Counsel will have broader authority to investigate and prosecute these types of offenses, which could lead to more efficient and effective handling of cases.

It is unclear how this change will impact military justice systems in the various services, the goal is to make it more “efficient.” However, lawyers and congress seem to have very different ideas about what this looks like. Lawyers I’ve spoken with hope that the new system will remove political pressure on commanders who are taking bad cases to trial. Congress, however, seems perpetually convinced that commanders aren’t taking enough cases to trial and are covering up offenses committed by “good soldiers.” I’m intrigued by the difference between the perceptions, and am a bit skeptical that Congress is going to stop tinkering with the system if there is a drop in the number of cases brought to trial.

Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial

The NDAA FY 2023 also includes amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, which sets out the rules and procedures for military trials. These amendments will ensure that residual prosecutorial and judicial duties concerning covered offenses are transferred to an appropriate entity, which could lead to more efficient and effective handling of cases.

Implementation Reporting

The NDAA FY 2023 requires comprehensive reporting from the Department of Defense (DOD) regarding the implementation of the military justice reforms from last year. This will allow for greater transparency and oversight of the military justice system and will help to ensure that the reforms are being implemented effectively.

Amendments to the UCMJ

The NDAA FY 2023 also includes several amendments to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which is the primary source of military criminal law. Some of these changes include:

  1. Any conviction by court-martial, regardless of the term imposed, would be subject to judicial review under a proposed amendment to Article 66 of the UCMJ.
  2. To further define the scope of a judge advocate general's review in both general and special court-martial proceedings, the UCMJ's Article 69 would be revised. This will aid in making sure cases are examined carefully and that defendants' rights are upheld.
  3. An amendment to Article 25 of the UCMJ would mandate the use of a random selection process to choose who serves on court-martial juries. This will aid in maintaining an impartial selection procedure.

Griffin Law

The NDAA FY 2023 brings about several changes to the military justice system that will have a significant impact on the way cases are handled and decided. It is critical to stay up-to-date on adjustments made within the system as they significantly impact defendants. The Griffin Law Firm is closely monitoring these developments and is prepared to assist servicemembers, veterans, and their families in navigating the legal system.

If you or a loved one is facing legal issues related to military justice, please do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation. We are here to help.