At JNSLP’s Feb. 11, 2015 symposium on “Trials and Terrorism: The Implications of Trying National Security Cases in Article III Courts,” an expert panel was convened to discuss trends in sentencing considerations in Article III terrorism prosecutions, and what the implications for these cases portend for american foreign policy. The panel consisted of a judge, a government official and former prosecutor, academics, and sentencing experts.
The Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan draws on his voluminous experience on the federal bench to illuminate some of the special concerns that attend terrorism and national security cases. Kaplan reviews several judicial challenges unique to terrorism cases, including classified information issues and the use of defendants’ statements in the course of prosecution. He concludes that Article III courts not only are capable of trying such cases, but they are the forum most consistent with our American values of fairness and transparency.
The filling of a judicial vacancy provides a unique opportunity to examine not only the appointment or election process, but also the court itself and its work. For obvious reasons, this has been recognized in connection with the Supreme Court of the United States,1 where vacancies are often the subject of much conjecture but, because of life tenure, remain essentially unpredictable. On a less lofty plane, the opportunity to take stock also occurs in other courts, and the timing, at least, is less a matter of speculation in non-Article III courts, where judges serve for fixed terms.
A case in point is the expiration of Chief Judge Andrew S. Effron’s term on the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (referred to here as the Court of Appeals) on September 30, 2011. It is appropriate to consider the process for filling his seat; the standards that, based on the law and past experience, must, could, or should not be taken into account in choosing a successor; and the possible impact on the court and its jurisprudence.
While national security law covers a broad swath, military justice is a key component, since good order and discipline are integral to a credible military capacity, and notwithstanding the remarkable trend towards the use of high technology in national defense, uniformed personnel – human beings – and their conduct (both actual and desired) remain the heart of the matter. Hence, the filling of Judge Effron’s seat is properly viewed as potentially impacting on national security.