Dean Romig speaks with POLITICO Pro on military sexual assault issue

Photograph: Dean Thomas J. Romig.Dean Thomas J. Romig recently spoke with Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO Pro magazine about President Obama's remarks on military sexual assault.

For Obama, speaking out on military sexual assault creates potential legal questions.

A Navy judge in Hawaii ruled in June that two defendants on trial for sexual assault couldn't be punitively discharged because of the president's remarks a month earlier during a White House press conference in which he said: "If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period. It's not acceptable."

According to the judge's ruling, Obama's comments represented "unlawful command influence" by suggesting he had a specific punishment in mind for the perpetrators.

Other military judges have also cited the president's comments in their opinions, and more than a dozen defense attorneys have been pointing to the remarks in their own cases.

"If they don't raise it as an issue, then it could be grounds for incompetence," said Thomas Romig, dean of Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan., and a former Army judge advocate general.

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