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Mechanics  of  Convening
CHAPTER 7 COURT-MARTIAL TRIALS Trial procedures differ according to the type of court  convened  to  hear  the  case.  Summary  courts- martial (SCM) are convened to try relatively minor offenses  and  they  use  a  simple  form  of  procedure. Special  courts-martial  (SPCM)  try  serious  offenses that are deemed to be beyond the scope of an SCM but not serious enough to warrant trial by general courts- martial (GCM). The major differences in these types of courts-martial are the maximum punishments that each may adjudge and the manner in which you pre- pare  the  records  of  proceedings. This chapter examines the types of courts-martial, the procedures each uses, and other procedural mat- ters  that  occur  before  and  during  trial.  In  our  discus- sion of trial procedures, it is necessary to treat the SCM  separately  because  its  procedures  are  much  dif- ferent  from  those  of  the  SPCM  and  GCM. THE  SUMMARY  COURT-MARTIAL An SCM is the least formal of the three types of courts-martial and the least protective of individual rights. The SCM is a streamlined trial process involv- ing  only  one  officer  who  performs  the  duties  of  prose- cutor,  defense  counsel,  judge,  and  members.  The purpose of this type of court-martial is to dispose of relatively  minor  offenses.  The  one  officer  assigned  to perform the various roles must inquire thoroughly and impartially into the matter concerned to make sure both the United States and the accused receive a fair hearing. The SCM is a streamlined procedure that provides less protection of the rights of the accused than  other  forms  of  court-martial.  The  maximum  im- posable punishment that an SCM can award is very limited. Furthermore, it may try only enlisted person- nel who consent to be tried by SCM. As  the  SCM  has  no  civilian  equivalent,  it  is strictly  a  creature  of  statue  within  the  military  system. While it is a criminal proceeding at which the techni- cal rules of evidence apply and at which a finding of guilty can result in loss of liberty and property, there is no constitutional right to representation by counsel. Therefore, it is not a truly adversarial proceeding. CREATION OF THE SUMMARY COURT-MARTIAL An SCM is convened (created) by an individual authorized  by  law  to  convene  an  SCM.  Article  24, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ); Rules for Courts-Martial  (R.C.M.) 1302a, Manual for Courts- Martial (MCM), 1984; and Manual of the Judge Ad- vocate  General  (JAGMAN)  0120c  identify  those persons  who  have  the  power  to  convene  an  SCM. These individuals include any person who may con- vene a GCM or an SPCM; or the commanding officer (CO) or officer in charge (OIC) of any other command when  empowered  by  the  Secretary  of  the  Navy  (SEC- NAV). The  authority  to  convene  an  SCM  rests  in  the office of the authorized command vice in the person of  its  commander.  For  example,  Captain  Doe,  U.S. Navy, has SCM convening authority while perform- ing his or her duties as Commanding Officer, USS Mississippi.  When Captain Doe goes on leave or is absent from his or her command for other reasons, he or she loses his or her authority. The power to convene an SCM is nondelegable and in no event can a subor- dinate exercise such authority “by direction.” When Captain Doe is on leave from his or her ship, his or her authority  to  convene  an  SCM  passes  to  his  or  her temporary  successor  in  command  (usually  the  execu- tive officer) who, in the eyes of the law, becomes the acting  CO. COs or OICs not empowered to convene an SCM may request such authority by following the proce- dures  contained  in  the  JAGMAN. Restrictions on Authority to Convene Unlike the authority to impose nonjudicial pun- ishment (NJP), a competent superior commander may restrict the power to convene SCMs. Furthermore, the commander of a unit attached to a ship should, as a matter  of  policy,  refrain  from  exercising  his  or  her SCM convening powers. He or she should refer such cases to the CO of the ship for disposition while the unit is embarked. This policy does not apply to com- manders of units that are embarked for transportation 7-1

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