Restoring the Power of the Convening Authority to Adjust Sentences

Jacob R. Weaver*

In 2013, Congress abrogated the power of certain military officers to reduce court-martial sentences, thereby eliminating a military defendant’s best hope for efficient and effective relief from common legal errors in the military justice system. While the overhaul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in 2016 promised significant reform, it ultimately failed to substantially reduce common legal errors. This Note analyzes how the 2013 and 2016 reforms have combined to prevent military defendants from receiving timely and adequate relief. In light of this analysis, this Note suggests an amendment to the UCMJ that would restore to certain officers a limited authority to reduce sentences based on legal errors. Such a reform ultimately addresses the core concerns that led to the 2013 revision while simultaneously providing an efficient and effective remedy for common legal errors, furthering the UCMJ’s aim of promoting justice and maintaining good order and discipline.

*Ensign, United States Navy Individual Ready Reserve. J.D. Candidate, University of Michigan Law School, May 2021; B.A. in History, Hillsdale College, May 2018. The opinions in this Note represent the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or views of the Department of Defense or its components.

I would like to thank Matthew Catallo for his substantial assistance and support. I also want to thank my parents, Jeff and Sharon Weaver, for their continued encouragement, as well as Captain Andrew House and Defense Service Office North for an incredible internship during the summer of 2019. Additionally, I want to thank Professor Sherman Clark, Elizabeth Helpling, and Brian Weber for providing me valuable feedback. Finally, I would like to thank Executive Notes Editor Kate Markey and the rest of the Michigan Law Review’s members for their exceptional guidance throughout the publication process.

I dedicate this work to my late grandfather George R. White, who inspired my passion for military service.

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