Bill to facilitate Indiana National Guard advances despite ‘due process’ concerns

Indiana National Guard leaders told House legislators that current state law can make it difficult to hold troops fully accountable for serious crimes. like sexual assault. House bill 1076 would make it easier to issue and maintain discipline “General Court Martial” which are a primary theater of military law enforcement. This bill was passed by a House Committee on Wednesday.

Current state law only allowed the governor convene a general court-martial. HB 1076 would extend that power to the adjutant generalthe governor-appointed senior military official of the state.

“You can imagine how difficult it is to have the governor as the sole drafting authority in terms of efficiency,” said Rep. Chris Jeter (R-Indianapolis), the bill’s author and a former Advocate General of the Navy (JAG). “I guarantee you the adjutant general will get it done a lot quicker than the governor even sees.”

In the introductory remarks on House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, Jeter pointed out that many states around Indiana, like Michigan and Kentucky, have undergone similar changes in recent decades. National Guard Colonel and Staff Counsel Tim Baldwin joined other Guard leaders to testify in support of the bill.

“Sexual assault is really what we’re looking for here,” Baldwin told lawmakers. “In the current situation, we cannot hold a general court-martial for a soldier’s sexual assault without the governor convening a general court-martial. if [the adjutant general] a general court-martial is allowed, then we can now address these sexual assaults.”

Baldwin said there have been two incidents of sexual assault in the Indiana National Guard in the past year.

“We couldn’t go to a general court-martial, which would have given us a dishonorable discharge,” he said. “We made an administrative separation board, they were segregated from the army with the ‘dishonorable characterization of service’. It’s not enough.”

The type of discharge can affect what benefits a veteran receives and bear other ramifications. People with dishonorable discharges cannot receive veterans’ benefits, carry firearms, or receive federal employment. General courts-martial are those This is the only way troops can be dishonorably discharged and can also result in life imprisonment without parole.

The Guard can refer suspected service members to civilian prosecution, Baldwin said, even if they don’t pardon them.

“Sometimes, for whatever reason, the state doesn’t want to prosecute a particular case,” he said. “Some jurisdictions are reluctant because they think it’s a military matter and they may not be charged. And in both cases last year, they weren’t charged in state court, but we separated them on the basis of the sexual assault.”

HB 1076 would also remove the right for Guardsmen request a court-martial instead “extrajudicial” or “Article 15” Penalties for minor offenses such as being late in returning to the post office. That was a point of contention at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

“I received an Article 15 for being late returning to my post. And there were mitigating circumstances for that. I don’t think I really deserve it,” said Rep. Chuck Moseley (D-Portage). “I feel a little uncomfortable with the possibility of not providing this person with all of the due processes, options and avenues that may be available to them.”

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Jim Bauerle, vice chairman of the Military/Veterans Coalition of Indiana, expressed similar concerns in his testimony.

“In America, you are innocent until proven guilty,” said Bauerle. “And what happens in this action is that you are guilty until proven innocent. And I think that’s totally wrong as a citizen, let alone a soldier.”

Proponents of the bill, including the National Guard Association of Indiana, point out that one already exists proper process system for Article 15 cases. It allows accused military personnel to appeal decisions and to hire outside counsel, although there is no guarantee that they will be provided with one.

“In practice, these soldiers, if they reject an Article 15 and call for a court-martial, they know that we’re not going to court-martial it, we’re not going to spend the taxpayers’ time and money to conduct a court-martial on someone who.” returned late to post,” said Colonel Baldwin. “Either they get almost nothing, a warning letter, or we go to the separation process and they’re out of the National Guard, which we don’t want.

And supporters say the bill would make extrajudicial sentences fairer, no longer allowing them to involve imprisonment, leaving only penalties like demotion and additional duties.

Finally, after about an hour of testimony and debate, Rep. Moseley and his fellow committee members voted unanimously to pass HB 1076.

“My main concern was whether or not we were denying a soldier his rights and due process,” Moseley said, before voting “yes.” “Certainly to be brought up by them [National Guard leaders] combined with the fact that I trust Rep. Jeter, I will vote “yes.” And keep watching and learning about this, with the possibility that [it] could change when this bill hits the bottom.

Contact Reporter Adam at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @arayesIPB.

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