Article 32 hearing next up for Bergdahl

Charged with desertion, Bowe Bergdahl can present his case in hearing

SAN ANTONIO – Now that Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the next step will be an Article 32 hearing.

Jefferson Moore, current 186th District Court Judge, spent 20 years in the Army and was a JAG officer for three years at Fort Sam Houston before retiring and going into private practice.

Although some compare this hearing to a civilian grand jury, there are many differences, according to Moore.

"The grand juries are secret and only the prosecutors are in there prosecuting the case, whereas an Article 32 is an open public hearing. The defendant has the right to be there, so Bowe Bergdahl should be there," Moore said.

Bergdahl doesn't just have the right to be there, but he can also present a case.

"The defendant can cross examine the witnesses that are present and the defendant can present his own case and his own witnesses if he likes," Moore said.

Moore said it is almost like a mini trial with both sides presenting. But unlike a grand jury, they are presenting to just one person -- an appointed officer -- who may or may not be a lawyer.

Moore said this process gives a huge advantage to military members.

"The military justice system is a superior system as far as protecting the right of accused soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines," Moore said.

About the Author: