President Barack Obama’s admonishment of sexual offenders in the military has backfired and his actions are muddling ongoing trials in what some judges and defense lawyers describe as “unlawful command influence” that could set offenders free.
Obama’s recent remarks that sexual offenders should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorable discharged,” have already tainted a dozen trials and will likely complicate prosecution in future cases, the New York Times reports.
“When the commander in chief says they will be dishonorably discharged that’s a pretty specific message. Every military defense counsel will make a motion about this,” said Thomas J. Romig, a former Army judge advocate general and dean of the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan.
“His remarks were more specific than I’ve ever heard a commander in chief get,” Romig said.
“Unlawful command influence” occurs when a military commander, or commander in chief in Obama’s case, orders a specific outcome to a court-martial.