Military Justice: Courts-Martial, an Overview [August 12, 2013]   [open pdf - 321KB]

"Recent high-profile military-related cases involving sexual assaults by U.S. servicemembers have resulted in increased public and congressional interest in military discipline and the military justice system. Questions have been raised regarding how allegations of sexual assault are addressed by the chain of command, the authority and process to convene a court-martial, and the ability of the convening authority to provide clemency to a servicemember convicted of an offense. Additionally, some military-related cases, including those of Major Nidal Hasan, the alleged shooter at Fort Hood, and Private first class Bradley Manning, the alleged source of leaked classified material through the organization WikiLeaks, have raised questions regarding the mental capacity of the accused and how the military justice system addresses this concern. In the criminal law system, some basic objectives are to discover the truth, acquit the innocent without unnecessary delay or expense, punish the guilty proportionately with their crimes, and prevent and deter further crime, thereby providing for the public order. Military justice shares these objectives in part, but also serves to enhance discipline throughout the Armed Forces, serving the overall objective of providing an effective national defense."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41739
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