Court Martial Jurisdiction
UCMJ gives courts-martial jurisdiction over all servicemembers (U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Coast Guard). The UCMJ also provides for jurisdiction over several other categories of individuals, including retired members of a regular component of the Armed Forces entitled to pay; retired members of a reserve component who are hospitalized in a military hospital; persons in custody of the military serving a sentence imposed by a court-martial; members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Public Health Service and other organizations, when assigned to serve with the military; enemy prisoners of war in custody of the military; and persons with or accompanying the military in the field during “times of war,” limited to declared wars. Article 2, UCMJ; 10 U.S.C. § 802.
Representing Guilty Clients: How do defense lawyers sleep at night?
Under the MCM, jurisdiction of a court-martial means “the power to hear a case and to render a legally competent decision.” See discussion to R.C.M. 201(a)(1). Under R.C.M. 201(b), a court-martial has jurisdiction if the following is true:
- The court-martial must be convened by an official empowered to convene it;
- The court-martial must be composed in accordance with the Rules for Courts- Martial with respect to number and qualifications of its personnel (military judge and members must have proper qualifications);
- Each charge before the court-martial must be referred to it by competent authority;
- The accused must be a person subject to court-martial jurisdiction (personal jurisdiction); and
- The offense must be subject to court-martial jurisdiction (subject matter jurisdiction).
- The nuances of court-martial jurisdiction are beyond the scope of this outline, however, it is enough that you understand generally that jurisdiction of a court-martial does not depend on where the offense was committed; it depends solely on the status of the accused. See Solorio v. United States, 483 U.S. 435, 447 (1987).