House Bill 1076 and Senate Bill 279 seek to remove federal and state constitutional due process rights of Indiana National Guard members and seeks to deviate from federal Uniform Code of Military Justice standards.
All Hoosiers, uniformed or not, have rights in all criminal prosecutions and procedures.
Article 1, Section 13 of the Bill of Rights of the Indiana Constitution states: “(a) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to a public trial, by an impartial jury, in the county in which the offense shall have been committed; to be heard by himself and counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof; to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.”
These rights include protections within the Indiana National Guard as well. The rights of individual citizens must be carried across all levels of government and public service.
In the root, these bills seek to address an extreme administrative failure of the governor for nearly eight years. To our knowledge, there is a backlog of cases that date from before the governor’s oath-of-office and that was the reason the change was being sought.
We often hear the governor refer to this oath-of-office as something that guides his actions in service to uphold the Constitutions.
His actions have proved he doesn’t properly serve as commander in chief to the Indiana National Guard or uphold and defend their constitutional rights.
These bills allow the senior executive appointed officer of the Indiana National Guard, the adjutant general, to begin initiating these actions by non-judicial punishment. These bills remove the service member’s ability to demand a court-martial trial and allows the command to inflict punishment.
Concerns over toxic commands have been raised, as the command could, and likely would, use this mechanism to target individuals for retribution and ruin careers without any oversight. The most recent past Indiana adjutant general was asked to resign and retired under scrutiny for questionable personal conduct and behavior.
These bills remove vital due process of all Indiana National Guard servicemembers and allows a seemingly unchecked command to issue nonjudicial punishment.
Reducing the due process of the accused servicemember removes their ability to challenge accusers and present their evidence to their peers in a demanded court-martial trial as constitutionally provided.
In the state of Indiana, for misdemeanor accused crimes, any accused citizen can appeal to the assigned criminal court for a jury trial by letter demand.
The request must be submitted to the court within a prescribed time and must be approved by the presiding judge. This allows citizens proper due process to challenge the charges and request a trial to have a jury of their peers review the evidence and decide the verdict.
We believe the due processes afforded to the regular civilian, should remain afforded to servicemember through military legal channels.
We urge all citizens and service members to immediately contact your state legislators today to demand these bills not move forward, and vote against.