Court of Appeals for Armed Forces Annual Reports (1951- )
Established by Article 67 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the Court of Appeals for Armed Forces has worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty and other persons subject to the UCMJ.
Article 67 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—enacted on May 5, 1950—established the Court of Military Appeals as a three‑judge civilian court. The Court was re‑designated as the United States Court of Military Appeals in 1968 by Congress. In 1994, it was given its current designation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is composed of five civilian judges appointed for15‑year terms by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. It exercises worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty as well as other persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. An independent tribunal established under Article I of the Constitution, the Court regularly interprets federal statutes, executive orders, and departmental regulations, and also determines the applicability of constitutional provisions to members of the armed forces.
- Ten-Year Chronology of the United States Court of Military Appeals (1951-1961)
- Reform of the Court of Military Appeals, Draft (1979)
Article 67 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which became effective in 1951, established the Court of Military Appeals “as the civilian interpreter of military law and as the overseer of the court-martial system." This article of the Code stipulates that the three-member court was to be “located for administrative purposes in the Department of Defense."
The Committee concluded that criticism of the Army system of justice garnered from the above material could be summarized as a general concern that this system, as set forth in the Manual for Courts-Martial of the Army, was not followed closely enough, and often broke down for two reasons: “(1) a failure on the part of the Army to foresee the needs of its system of military justice and a reluctance to utilize available men of legal skill so that the courts were frequently staffed with incompetent men; (2) the denial to the courts of independence of action in many instances by the commanding officers who appointed the courts and reviewed their judgments, and who conceived it the duty of the command to interfere for disciplinary purposes.” Witnesses testified that military courts were in disrepute because there was “such disparity and severity in the impact of the system on the guilty,” and that the morale of the troops was impaired as a result. The Committee concluded that the criticism expressed in the material it reviewed was “well founded and reflected actual breakdowns in the operation of the system.”
The Committee made two general recommendations. First, the Secretary of War, the general staff, and the Army should place greater emphasis upon the operation of the Army system of justice. Second, there should be a substantial enlargement of the Judge Advocate General’s Department, and an increase in the number of technicians in the administration of the Army system of justice. These recommendations are further defined in numerous specific recommendations regarding the authorities of courts-martial, including suggested amendments to various Articles of War, and the recommendation that greater specificity be provided in the Manual for Courts-Martial as to court procedures and responsibilities. The Committee recommended that a “Board of Officers be constituted to consider other advisable changes in the Articles of War and in the Manual of Courts-Martial and that such study be a continuous process.”
In two appendices to the committee report, the committee provides summaries and analyses of written comments it received regarding the efficacy of the military justice system. The Administration of Military Justice is a summary of “constructive criticism” derived from the body of correspondence provided to the committee. It is organized in two parts: Phases of the system of military justice; and Treatment of criticisms in the order in which they occur in an average case (beginning with pre-trial proceedings). The criticisms, which include recommendations, cover personnel issues, revision of the Manual for Courts-Martial, revision of the Articles of War, and revision of all aspects of the then-current system of military justice (e.g., filing of charges and trials). The Topical Outline is a “tabulation and summary discussion of answers received [from generals, Judge Advocate officers, and enlisted men] before 14 October 1946 to the questionnaire mailed out by the War Department Advisory Committee on Military Justice.” It summarizes the merits and weaknesses of the court-martial system, encompassing its purpose, jurisdiction, organization, procedures, and review of proceedings. The outline also addresses the advisability of amending various Articles of War.
- Report of the Department of Defense Study Group on the U.S. Court of Military Appeals (1989)
Formed on July 17, 1987, the DOD Study Group was tasked with identifying and examining all issues affecting the size, organization, jurisdiction and operations of the United States Court of Military Appeals, which was “a three-judge court of limited jurisdiction established under Article I of the U.S. Constitution and located for administrative purposes only in DOD.” Composed of a military attorney from each of the armed services and, by invitation, a military attorney from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Acting DOD General Counsel formalized the Study Group on September 15. The objective of the Study Group was “to facilitate the exchange of information and views among the services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, provide the best possible information base for evaluation by the Department of Defense and each of the military departments of any legislative proposals, and propose for further consideration within the Department of Defense any legislation deemed appropriate.” The Study Group concluded that retaining the Court of Military Appeals as an Article I court would allow “continued, special deference to be given to the military and [would] allow Congress to fully exercise its Article I powers over the military as the Supreme Court has interpreted them and as the framers of the Constitution envisioned them.”
- U.S. Court of Military Appeals Committee Report (1989)
Initially established in 1953, the Court Committee was reestablished in October 1987 by the United States Court of Military Appeals. Citing major developments in military justice, the Court directed the Committee “to study and make recommendations” that the Court could use “in evaluating and improving its own administration and operations." Over a period of 12 months, the Committee considered written submissions and oral statements by a variety of individuals, both civilian and military, and also interviewed the judges of the Court. This report discusses seven subjects, which provide the basis for the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations. These subjects include: whether the Court has performed its intended role; the relationship between the Court and the Department of Defense; the appointment of judges, tenure, and designation of the chief judge; the size of the Court; the organization, function, and role of the Court's staff; the Court's workload; and Article III status for the Court. The Committee identified appellate delay as one of the most urgent problems of the Court.
Annual Reports Pursuant to the Uniform Code of Military Justice
Article 67 (g) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U. S. C. 867 (g) created a “Code Committee” and “required the committee to meet annually to survey the operations of the Code and prepare a report to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives, to the Secretary of Defense, and to the Secretaries of the Departments” on the status of military justice as well as the manner and means by which current military justice could be improved by legislative enactment. The members of the Code Committee—the Judges of the United States Court of Military Appeals, the Judge Advocates General of the Armed Forces and, initially, the General Counsel of the Department of the Treasury, later the Department of Transportation—submitted their first annual report for the period May 31, 1951 to May 31, 1952.