Military Commissions vs. Criminal Trials

12.02.09 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Many of the procedural safeguards that are provided to a defendant in a criminal trial are not available to those tried in military commissions, or are present in attenuated or modified form.  Thus, for example, military commissions offer no right to a speedy trial and may allow hearsay into evidence.

These and numerous other distinctions between the two judicial frameworks were helpfully tabulated in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.  See “Comparison of Rights in Military Commission Trials and Trials in Federal Criminal Court,” November 19, 2009.  Related information on the rights of detainees in a criminal prosecution was discussed in “Closing the Guantanamo Detention Center: Legal Issues,” updated November 17, 2009.