It is that time of year again. When everything in military justice seems calm. Military charge sheets seemingly have all but dried up. Only they have not.
Between Thanksgiving and the second week of January, military prosecutors seldom charge new cases. With the requirements of R.C.M. 707 speedy trial, nothing moves. Prosecutors take leave. Supervisors too. Prosecutors do not want to assume any time against their 120 days to process the case from preferral to referral, and especially not for personal time off, the day on day off or half-day holiday schedule (depending on the jurisdiction). Additionally, during the holidays, non-military justice practitioners take leave, which can add to the complication of trying to find judge advocate Article 32(b) preliminary hearing officers that are in the area and on duty. Military defense lawyers remain slammed with Article 15 walk-ins and chapter packets persist as fluid.
Where are the military charge sheets?
With many members of the military who are under investigation, after the initial shock of learning they are under investigation, tend to become lax in their approach to this new reality. If they were not moved to hire a civilian practitioner at the outset, chances are they are sitting back to “see what happens.” And with each passing day, week, and even month, they become lulled into a false sense of trust in the system: that the investigation concluded they had done committed no wrong. Surely, military law enforcement concluded no probable cause. Command must realize there is not evidence to go forward. But seldom, if ever, is that the case.
This is the calm before the storm. That time of year when military charge sheets are being drafted, reviewed, edited, and set to the side until the second week of January.
Military charge sheets are coming. There is little doubt.
To the service member that has been under investigation for months or even for more than a year, the only question that remains is once the member realizes his military charge sheet is coming, whether the gladiator he needs, will be available to take up his battle in the arena.