Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
04/13/2016 08:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 126-CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE; APPEALS 8:26:52 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of HB 126. 8:27:16 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI joined the committee meeting. 8:27:28 AM CHRISTOPHER WEAVER, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC), Staff Judge Advocate, Alaska National Guard, Office of the Commissioner/Adjutant General, Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, reviewed his testimony from a previous Senate State Affairs committee meeting regarding HB 126 that addressed the following: · History and basic need for an Alaska Code of Military Justice (ACMJ) for the State of Alaska. · Alaska is one of a few states that does not have an ACMJ. · Commanders including Adjutant General Hummel explained the reason why ACMJ was needed. · Article 15, non-judicial punishment and the no-turndown provision. · Concurrent offenses on both the civilian and military side. · Some offenses were civilian-like, but many of the civilian- like offenses affect a unit's good order and discipline. · Alaska National Guard's jurisdiction. · Non-judicial punishment. · Different levels each commander has, from company, field grade, and general officer going up the chain. · Maximum sentences listed in HB 126 for different sentences. 8:30:02 AM CHAIR STOLTZE asked Ms. Meade to address the committee. 8:30:53 AM NANCY MEADE, General Counsel, Administrative Staff, Office of the Administrative Director, Alaska Court System (ACS), Anchorage, Alaska, revealed that her involvement in the bill was limited to the court-martial process. She noted that a defendant has the right to petition to the Supreme Court for final actions. CHAIR STOLTZE opined that ACS was jealous of the Alaska Judicial Council's process where the Legislature confirms members. He asked if ACS was softening on the issue. MS. MEADE asked Chair Stoltze to confirm that he was referring to the governor appointing members of the Military Appeals Commission that was confirmed by the Legislature. CHAIR STOLTZE replied yes and noted that there was a judicial component. MS. MEADE asserted that the Military Appeals confirmation process was not something that concerned ACS. She remarked that there were many administrative law judges in the office of hearing appeals within the executive branch that do not go through the Alaska Judicial Council. CHAIR STOLTZE asked if administrative law judges go through the Alaska Judicial Council. MS. MEADE answered no. CHAIR STOLTZE asked Ms. Meade to corroborate that none of the administrative law judges go through the Alaska Judicial Council. MS. MEADE replied that unless she was mistaken, no. CHAIR STOLTZE responded that he believes that the administrative appeals judges go through the Alaska Judicial Council. 8:32:32 AM MS. MEADE said the Alaska Judicial Council deals with the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Superior Court, and the District Court judges. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if ACS had a position on HB 126. MS. MEADE answered no. She specified that she worked with the sponsor and the officers to ensure that the procedures that do involve the court system was workable. She detailed that the only thing that touches ACS were the grand jury requirement and the cases going to the Supreme Court. CHAIR STOLTZE asked Ms. Meade to verify that a disagreement with an administrative or regulatory decision could be appealed to the Superior Court. MS. MEADE answered yes. She summarized that an Alaskan National Guard member could go through the following process: · Court-martial trial; · Appeal to the Military Appeals Commission; · Petition for hearing to the Supreme Court for a final decision only if the purposed punishment by the Military Appeals Commission involved incarceration. She pointed out that the Alaska National Guard's appeal process was similar to a criminal trial where a person has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals and if dissatisfied, the right to petition for hearing to the Supreme Court. 8:34:39 AM CHAIR STOLTZE noted that SB 91, [the crime reform bill co- sponsored by Senator Coghill], would reclassify a lot of offenses and penalties. He asked if Ms. Meade had constitutional concerns from SB 91 regarding penalties, sanctions, or offenses. MS. MEADE replied that she was not sure what issues will arise. She pointed out that the court never has touched military offenses before. She said the few cases that are a result of SB 91 will be new to the Supreme Court. CHAIR STOLTZE explained that his intent was to see if SB 91 does interplay with HB 126. 8:36:16 AM SENATOR COGHILL suggested that a side-by-side study be done with penalties in SB 91 and HB 126. He noted that the penalties in HB 126 were consistently lower than current and proposed civilian penalties in SB 91. He added that double-jeopardy and deference between military and civilian courts need to be addressed as well. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked LTC. WEAVER to confirm that the civilian court system would have jurisdiction first. LTC. WEAVER replied that civilian courts would have jurisdiction over civilian offenses, not military offenses. 8:38:49 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI pointed out that HB 126 had lesser penalties for some of the civilian crimes. He asked LTC. WEAVER to verify that a civilian court would first decide whether to assert their jurisdiction for a crime and then the military would have an opportunity to decide. LTC. WEAVER answered correct. MS. MEADE noted that the civilian courts do not exactly assert jurisdiction. She explained that the Department of Law decides whether to file a case with ACS. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI reiterated that the civilian court first determines whether or not a case should be filed and the person charged with the crime cannot choose between a civilian or military court. MS. MEADE concurred with Senator Wielechowski. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI opined that double jeopardy should not be an issue. He asked LTC. WEAVER to confirm that a person convicted in a civilian court would take away the right of the military court and vice versa. LTC. WEAVER concurred with Senator Wielechowski and noted that as long as the elements match for the particular crime. MS. MEADE pointed out that the bill has a jeopardy clause that says jeopardy attaches through one of the proceedings. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked LTC. WEAVER to confirm that very rarely would a civilian court not investigate and press charges for a serious crime like assault, rapes, or murders where the case ends up in military court. 8:41:40 AM LTC. WEAVER concurred with Senator Wielechowski. MS. MEADE agreed with Senator Wielechowski. She pointed out that Senator Wielechowski's deduction was the reason for the zero- fiscal note due to the expectation for very few cases. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked LTC. WEAVER to confirm that military cases like "absent without leave" (AWOL), deserting your post, and being insubordinate to a commanding officer were not covered by Alaska statutes and would go before the military tribunal. LTC. WEAVER answered correct. 8:42:50 AM CHAIR STOLTZE closed public testimony on HB 126. 8:43:36 AM CHAIR STOLTZE recessed the meeting to a call of the chair. [The committee did not reconvene so HB 126 was held in committee.]