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					                                             U.S. MARINE CORPS. JROTC
                                           Category 5 – General Military Subjects
                                          Skill 12 – Uniform Code of Military Justice

            The Uniform Code of Military Justice – Why?
                          When? Who?
                                                                   the United States became independent, our
                                                                   military establishment was patterned on that of
                                                                   Great Britain. The Navy and Marine Corps were
  PURPOSE                                                          given The Articles of the Government of the Navy, while
                                                                   the Army operated under a separate set of laws
  The purpose of military law is to promote justice,
                                                                   known as Articles of War. Before World War II,
  to assist in maintaining good order and discipline
                                                                   these systems were amended, modified, and
  in the armed forces, to promote efficiency and
                                                                   adapted. By World War II, they were a patchwork
  effectiveness in the military establishment, and to
                                                                   of obsolete, confusing, contradictory, and
  strengthen the national security of the United
                                                                   obscure rules that were almost impossible to
                                                                   enforce with any degree of fairness.
  Military law is organized under the Uniform Code
  of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ consists of
  the statutes, or laws, governing the military
  establishment and regulations issued under it,
  the Constitutional powers of the President and
  regulations issued under the Constitution, and
  the inherent authority of military commanders.
  Military law includes jurisdiction exercised by
  courts-martial and the jurisdiction exercised by
  commanders       with   respect    to    nonjudicial

  In this lesson, you will learn the history of military
  law in the U.S., why it is necessary to have a
  separate Code of Military Justice, and to whom                   The Need for a Unified Code
  the Code applies.                                                         World War II brought a great number of
                                                                   draftees into the service. The result was that the
                                                                   military’s differing systems of justice were brought
Introduction                                                       under attack from the outside. Why was there a
                                                                   different system of justice for each service? Why
         Since ancient times, military justice has                 were offenders, sometimes even in the same
been composed of two distinct branches: laws of
                                                                   service,     treated    differently?    Why     were
the sea, which are fairly consistent from country                  punishments often not equal to the offense?
to country, and have changed very little over the                  Courts-martial, trials of military or naval
centuries; and military (or Army) laws, which were
                                                                   personnel for offenses against the military, often
unique to each land army. The laws varied widely,                  lacked trained legal personnel who were unable or
sometimes even within the same country. When                       unwilling to give the accused adequate defense or

                                       U.S. MARINE CORPS. JROTC
                                     Category 5 – General Military Subjects
                                    Skill 12 – Uniform Code of Military Justice

proper advice. Commanding officers would                     all branches of the U.S. military wherever our
occasionally influence the outcome of courts,                forces are stationed, even on board ships at sea.
informing members that their career depended on
                                                                      The purpose of the military justice system
arriving at the proper verdict. To answer these
                                                             is to regulate behavior and promote good order,
questions and resolve the criticisms, Congress
                                                             high morale, and discipline. To accomplish this, it
passed the Uniform Code of Military Justice
                                                             is necessary for military justice to be the same
(UCMJ) in 1950. Since that time, the United States
                                                             around the world.
Armed Forces have operated under the system
developed as a result of that act.

Why Does the Military Need a
Different System?
         Many factors motivated Congress to
provide a separate system of justice for the
military. Some crimes are unique to the military
and have no match in civilian courts. These
   Unauthorized absence
   Disobedience
   Disrespect
   Misbehavior before the enemy
                                                             From Where Does the
                                                             Authority for the UCMJ Come?
   Malingering                                                       In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution
          The military requires the full cooperation         of the United States, Congress is granted the
of every member of the service from top to                   authority “To make rules for the government and
bottom. This cooperation is designed to reinforce            regulation of the land and naval forces.” In 1968,
leadership and to control the factors that influence         the Military Justice Act revised the UCMJ,
the fighting capacity of the force.                          originally established in 1950. The Code includes
                                                             140 articles that provide the basis for the
         Because the armed forces are deployed
                                                             administration of justice for the United States
around the world, military society requires its own
                                                             Armed Forces.
justice system. The system must be worldwide in
its jurisdiction, unlike civilian law, which is                       Article 36 of the UCMJ gives the
usually localized. How, for example, would a case            President the authority to issue regulations
be handled if the offense occurred on a base in              prescribing the procedure to follow before military
Guam, Germany, or Japan?                                     tribunals, including the rules of evidence. The
                                                             President has the authority to establish limits of
        For these reasons, Congress established
                                                             punishment for most offenses as a result of
the separate justice system for the military. It is
                                                             Article 56. These regulations are issued in the
called uniform because it is evenly applied across
                                                             form of the Manual for Courts-Martial, an

                                          U.S. MARINE CORPS. JROTC
                                       Category 5 – General Military Subjects
                                      Skill 12 – Uniform Code of Military Justice

Executive Order of the President. Executive                     1984. In the 19th century, civil courts had no
Orders have the force and effect of law. The                    power to interfere with courts-martial and court-
Secretary of the Navy produced the Manual of the                martial decisions. The U.S. Court of Military
Judge Advocates General of the Navy (JAG                        Review consists of military judges who hear the
Manual) that also serves as the primary source of               appeals. Their decisions may come under appeal
military law that applies to the Navy and Marines.              to the U.S. Court of Military Appeals that consists
                                                                of five civilian judges appointed by the President.
                                                                Finally, Congress gave appeals authority to the
Jurisdiction                                                    Supreme Court on the decisions of the Court of
         Members of the Armed Forces can be                     Military Appeals.
brought before civil or military tribunals if they are
accused of a violation of law that is both a civil
and a military offense. When an offense violates                Who Is Subject to the UCMJ?
state, federal, and military law at the same time,                       The Uniform Code of Military Justice
the authority that first obtains control over the               applies to people active in the Armed Forces, but
offender can try him or her. An example of this                 it also applies to a number of other individuals.
kind of offense is murder. The use of a writ of                 According to Article Two of the UCMJ, the
habeas corpus is the only way that a civil court                military has jurisdiction in the following instances:
can interfere with the actions of a military court
                                                                1. If you are a member of a regular component
and vice versa. If a judge grants a writ of habeas
                                                                   of the armed forces, including individuals
corpus, the defendant must be produced along
                                                                   awaiting discharge after expiration of their
with the cause for which the individual has been
                                                                   terms of enlistment; volunteers from the time
taken and held is brought before a court. A
                                                                   of their muster, or acceptance into the
member of the Marine Corps accused of an
                                                                   armed forces; inductees from the time of
offense against civil authority may be delivered to
                                                                   their actual induction into the armed forces;
civil court for trial. In foreign countries, Marines
                                                                   and other persons lawfully called or ordered
are subject to the laws of those countries and can
                                                                   into, or to duty in or for training in the armed
be tried and punished by foreign authorities. In
                                                                   forces, from the dates when they are required
certain countries, the U.S. has “status of forces
                                                                   by the terms of the call or order to obey it.
agreements” which defines the conditions under
which U.S. military personnel can be delivered to               2. Cadets, aviation cadets, and midshipman.
local authorities for trial in local courts.                    3. Members of a reserve component while on
          Once a violation of the UCMJ comes to                    inactive-duty training, but in the case of
the attention of the proper military authorities, the              members of the Army National Guard of the
commanding officer (CO) must investigate the                       United States or the Air National Guard of
charge to determine the validity of the allegation.                the United States only when in Federal
Based on this investigation, the CO also decides if                Service.
prosecution is appropriate. After it is decided that            4. Retired members of a regular component of
a trial will be convened, the results of that trial can            the armed forces who are entitled to pay.
be brought to appeal. The review and appeal
process followed a military route until August 1,

                                       U.S. MARINE CORPS. JROTC
                                    Category 5 – General Military Subjects
                                   Skill 12 – Uniform Code of Military Justice

5. Retired members of a reserve component
   who are receiving hospitalization from an
   armed force.
6. Members of the Fleet Reserve and Fleet
   Marine Corps Reserve.
7. Persons in custody of the armed forces
   serving a sentence imposed by a court-
8. Members of the National Oceanic and
   Atmospheric Administration, Public Health
   Service, and other organizations, when
   assigned to and serving with the armed
9. Prisoners of war in custody of the armed
10. In time of war, persons serving with or
    accompanying an armed force in the field.

         The Constitution provided Congress with
the authority to establish the Uniform Code of
Military Justice. Because there was too much
confusion about how military law was
implemented, the UCMJ applies to all branches of
the military. It also applies to a variety of other
individuals associated with the armed forces. Until
1984, the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to
review the proceedings of a military commission,
but Congress has now given appeals jurisdiction
on decisions of the Court of Military Appeals.