I've been on a jury for the last 10 days, of which I ended up being the foreman. It was an instructive and sobering experience; quite a few tears were shed during deliberations. (I did learn that the urban legend is true -- ambulances can trip traffic lights in their direction. I also learned that there are still people who use MySpace.)
As I was sitting through hours of chain-of-custody evidence on the forensics, I started thinking about the differences between civilian and military justice. I've heard that military justice actually does a better job of finding the "truth" (whether a person actually did the thing they are accused of doing) at the expense of some rights for the defendant that have evolved over the years in civilian courts. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I suspect it might be.
I was lucky enough never to have to face military justice during my time in the Navy, but I did attend several Masts as part of the chain of command of the accused, and served on a couple AdSep Boards
. My most memorable story involved, as usual, the good ship Topeka
during our '92-'93 deployment. While we were on a Mission Vital To National Security, we were allowed to grow beards. The caveat was that if you had to be in the Wardroom during a Captain's Mast, you had to appear clean-shaven (this applied to the defendant's whole chain of command). As a result, none of the Department Heads got all the way through the Mission with a full beard; I was lucky enough to miss out on that. Our XO, even though he went to every mast, still ended up with a full beard several times; he was one of those people who could grow a functional beard in about 5 days. (Off topic, we ended up shaving the letters "XO" into his back when we did our Shellback Ceremony that deployment.)
Anybody have any good stories about the military justice system?