Article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) prohibits unlawful command influence (UCI) in military prosecutions. The prohibition of UCI, Vincent A. Marrazzo argues, is a critical component of the military justice system, ensuring both fairness and public confidence in the military prosecution process.
Marrazzo contends, however, that the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) has expanded UCI doctrine far beyond the textual confines of Article 37. In particular, the development of “apparent UCI”—which allows CAAF to set aside a finding or sentence for the mere appearance of UCI even if the apparent UCI did not materially prejudices the substantial rights of the accused—directly contravenes the Article 37’s requirement that such prejudice must exist in order to set aside a finding or sentence of a court-martial and also Article 37’s requirement that UCI must be intentional.
Although the doctrine of apparent UCI serves laudable goals, it is also in direct conflict with the text of the UCMJ. Ultimately, Marrazzo, concludes, a doctrine of apparent UCI may be desirable, but it is up to Congress, not the courts, to revise the UCMJ.
Hosted by National Institute of Military Justice (in honor of NIMJ’s 30th anniversary)
The following pieces are from the “30 Years of Military Justice” symposium held on Oct. 28, 2021, with keynote speaker Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and in partnership with Georgetown University Law Center’s Center on National Security and the Law, the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, and the Georgetown National Security Law and Military Law Societies.
Patrie conducts a careful and detailed examination of sexual assault in the military with a review of several recent high-profile cases. She proposes a framework to enforce judicial noninterference in sensitive military affairs while also ensuring that the military does not violate servicemembers’ constitutional rights.