According to his lawyer’s blog, PFC Bradley Manning’s case will finally get an Article 32 hearing. It is scheduled to start on the 16th of December and run for five days at Fort Meade, MD.
The Article 32 hearing for PFC Bradley Manning will begin on December 16, 2011 at Fort Meade, Maryland. The hearing is expected to last approximately five days. With the exception of those limited times where classified information is being discussed, the hearing will be open to the public.
Additionally, Mr. Coombs gives a pretty good description of what an Article 32 hearing is:
The primary purpose of the Article 32 hearing is to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case as well as to provide the defense with an opportunity to obtain pretrial discovery. The defense is entitled to call witnesses during the hearing and to also cross examine the government’s witnesses. Each witness who testifies is placed under oath; their testimony can therefore be used during the trial for impeachment purposes or as prior testimony should the witness become unavailable.
This will not happen in front of a judge, and unlike a civilian Grand Jury, which the Article 32 process replaces, the prosecutor, called the Trial Counsel in military parlance, will not run the hearing. It will be presided over by an Investigating Officer. The IO will be a commissioned officer who is not JAG corps, but will have a legal advisor. The IO will prepare a report to the Convening Authority, the general officer under whose authority this case proceeds. The report will advise the CA as to which proffered charges should proceed to Court Martial, which ones should be dropped, and what level of Court Martial should be convened. The advisory capacity of the IO cannot be overstated. It is at the Convening Authority’s sole discretion as to whether or not to charge a Soldier under UCMJ. The CA can choose to not charge vice his IO’s report, but this is rare. Conversely, the CA can choose to charge even when the IO recommends against it. This happens frequently in sexual assault/rape charges and drug charges.
I am not a lawyer. I do know lawyers who are members of the military bar, however, and they tolerate my questions and try to answer in such a way that I can understand them. There are other sources of information about the process and events out there, and I encourage you all to go out and seek out knowledgeable sources.
NOTE–edited to change the title of the Article 32 IO from “Investing Officer” to “Investigating Officer”. Hat tip to commenter sherparick.