Military Commission Judges Do Not Have Unilateral Power to Punish for Contempt [July 18, 2018] [open pdf - 368KB]
"Brigadier General (Gen.) John G. Baker, Chief Defense Counsel of the Military Commission System, prevailed in his habeas case against a military commission judge who sentenced him to 21 days' confinement and fined him $1,000 for contempt. The contempt charge stemmed from Gen. Baker's refusal to appear before the military judge to defend or rescind his decision to permit all but one of the defense attorneys in the Al-Nashiri (U.S.S. Cole bombing) case to withdraw on ethical grounds. The District Court for the District of Columbia ultimately granted the petition in Baker v. Spath on the grounds that military judges in the military commission system do not have the authority unilaterally to impose punishment for contempt. Rather, contempt charges must be decided by a full military commission in the same way as any other offense punishable by military commissions established under the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (MCA)."
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10171