McClatchy Quotes Steptoe’s Navarre on Civilian Court-Martial Case

April 10, 2012

Steptoe special counsel Michael Navarre was quoted in a McClatchy article titled "Alaa Ali case questions whether civilians should be court-martialed."  The article, published on April 6, discusses the case of Iraqi-born civilian translator Alaa "Alex" Ali, who was tried and imprisoned by the US Army, and a friend-of-the-court brief submitted in his case by Steptoe partner John O'Connor and Mr. Navarre.

The amendment that made Mr. Ali's military prosecution possible, authored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), could be one step closer to Supreme Court review.  The article states that whatever happens next will affect myriad US contractors still working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's a significant case, in that it's the first time a civilian has been tried in a regular court-martial since the Vietnam War," said Mr. Navarre, who has represented civilian contractors potentially subject to military prosecution under Sen. Graham's 2006 amendment to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

On April 5, the military's top appellate court wrestled with the Ali case and the tricky questions it raises about military authority over civilians.  The sharp give-and-take left some observers thinking that this case might go beyond the military appeals court.

"It makes a great legal issue," Mr. Navarre said, while cautioning that "practically speaking" the military prosecution of civilians may still be too infrequent to compel Supreme Court action.

The full article can be read at McClatchy.