Civil Rights and Military Tribunals

by Kenneth Adams

by Herbert J. Stern

by Geoffrey R. Stone

by David Strauss

Can military tribunals protect the rights of the accused and offer fundamentally fair trials? What role, if any, will there be for review by civilian courts? These and other questions were taken up at a January 17, 2002, panel discussion at the University of Chicago Law School. Panelists examined the procedures and protections essential to ensuring a fair trial, discussed the potential legacy of the Bush administration's tribunals plan, and drew upon the experiences of former US District Judge Herbert Stern's tenure as the head of a military tribunal in Berlin in the late 1970s.

In another panel discussion, faculty from the University of Chicago Law School discuss the history and constitutionality of military tribunals.

Panel moderator Kenneth Adams sets the stage by asking why the government has decided to bypass civilian courts in favor of military tribunals.

Herbert Stern poses two fundamental questions: how will the courts rule on military tribunals, and does the Constitution apply in these procedings?

Geoffrey Stone asks whether civil liberties can be protected in a military tribunal, and outlines some of the procedures to safeguard those rights.

David Strauss looks at how the Bill of Rights applies to military tribunals, and discusses which rights are necessary--and which are not--to ensuring fundamental fairness.

Related links:

Military Tribunals Materials for the Jan. 17 Panel

ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Kenneth Adams
Ken Adams co-chairs the litigation group of Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP in Washington, DC. He joined the firm in 1973, and has been a litigation partner since 1976.

Adams has represented plaintiffs in major price-fixing litigation, including cases against Archer Daniels Midland and manufacturers of citric acid, vitamins and commerical explosives. Since 1989, he has served on the executive committee appointed by state and federal judges in Alaska to coordinate the litigation against Exxon Corporation on behalf of more than 40,000 plaintiffs who were injured in the Exxon Valdez spill.

Prior to joining Dickstein Shapiro, Adams served as legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Abner J. Mikva (later Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and counsel to President Clinton). He served as the Washington representative for the clinical social work profession for more than 20 years. Adams is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School.

Herbert J. Stern
Herbert J. Stern is a partner at Stern Greenberg & Kilcullen in Roseland, New Jersey. From 1973 to 1987, he served as a US District Judge for the District of New Jersey. Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Stern held senior positions in the US attorney's office for the District of New Jersey, the Justice Department, and the District Attorney's office for New York County.

As an assistant district attorney, Stern conducted the grand jury investigation into the death of Malcolm X, ordering the arrest of three men convicted of first-degree murder. At both the Justice Department and the US attorney's office, he investigated and prosecuted public corruption cases. In 1979, the State Department named him US Judge for Berlin.

Stern is the author of Trial at Berlin, which details a 1979 airplane hijacking case over which he presided, and the five-volume Trying Cases to Win. He is a graduate of Hobart College and the University of Chicago Law School.

Geoffrey R. Stone
Geoffrey R. Stone is the Harry L. Kalven, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce of the University of Pennsylvania before attending the University of Chicago Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review.

Following graduation in 1971, Stone served as law clerk to Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He spent the next year as law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States. Stone was admitted to the New York Bar in 1972 and has been a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago since 1973. He is currently a member of the National Advisory Council of the American Civil Liberties Union and a member of the Board of Governors of Argonne National Laboratory.

Stone has taught courses in constitutional law, civil procedure, evidence, criminal procedure, contracts, and regulation of the competitive process. He has written a casebook with Cass Sunstein in the area of constitutional law. He has also written numerous articles concerning such matters as the freedom of speech and press, freedom of religion, the constitutionality of police use of secret agents and informants, the privilege against self-incrimination, the Supreme Court, and the FBI. Mr. Stone is the editor, with David Strauss and Dennis Hutchinson, of the Supreme Court Review.

David Strauss
David Strauss graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude in 1973. He then spent two years at Magdalen College, Oxford, on a Marshall Scholarship and received a B.Phil. in politics from Oxford in 1975. In 1978, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was developments editor of the Law Review. Prior to joining the faculty in 1985, he was an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice, and, from 1981 to 1985, an assistant to the solicitor general of the United States.

Mr. Strauss joined the faculty in 1985. From 1986 to 1989, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the Chicago Council of Lawyers. In 1990, he was special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the confirmation hearings of David Souter. Mr. Strauss has argued sixteen cases before the United States Supreme Court. He is, with Geoffrey Stone and Dennis Hutchinson, editor of the Supreme Court Review. He has published articles on, among other topics, race discrimination, freedom of expression, and constitutional theory. His current teaching interests are constitutional law, federal jurisdiction, and elements of the law.

COPYRIGHT | This material was drawn from a panel discussion held at the University of Chicago Law School January 17, 2002. Copyright 2002 the University of Chicago.

(c) 2004 The University of Chicago :: Please direct questions or comments to