Research News

TIPSHEET: Vanderbilt expert can talk about developments in the war crimes case surrounding a young Guantanamo detainee

A military judge Monday threw out a war crimes case against Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr. He is accused of the 2002 grenade killing of a U.S. Army soldier in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 at the time of the alleged attack. Judge Peter Brownback found that the charge sheet did not meet a two-step process defined in the Military Commissions Act.

Vanderbilt University acting associate professor of law Michael Newton is an expert on the case and war crimes laws. He has also tried cases in front of Judge Brownback.

“This is sloppy lawyering, but good judging,” said Newton. “This proves the legitimacy of the legal process because Judge Brownback followed the law.”

“More and more child soldiers are being recruited, and they are committing heinous crimes,” added Newton. “This is an issue the international community is going to have to confront.”

Newton served in the Office of War Crimes Issues at the U.S. Department of State and was one of two U.S. delegates who negotiated the Elements of Crimes document for the International Criminal Court. He also coordinated the interface between the FBI and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and deployed into Kosovo to do forensics fieldwork to support the Milosevic indictment.

Newton also helped establish the Iraqi Special Tribunal and led the training in international criminal law for its judges, including holding sessions in Baghdad. He still advises the tribunal and is part of the academic consortium supporting it.

He also served as the United States representative on the United Nations Planning Mission for the Sierra Leone Special Court and was also a member of the Special Court academic consortium.

Prior to his retirement from active duty, Newton was senior adviser to the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, where he implemented a wide range of policies relating to international criminal law and the law of armed conflict. Newton is also a member of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

Michael Newton has done numerous TV and radio interviews. To schedule an interview, call our 24/7 number (615) 322-2706 or email Amy Wolf at