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Overview of the five elements of court-martial jurisdiction:

  • Proper jurisdiction over the person (personal jurisdiction).
  • Properly composed court (military judge and members must have proper qualifications.) Absent evidence of coercion or ineffective assistance of counsel, accused’s request to be tried by military judge alone can be inferred from the record of trial (applying substantial compliance doctrine to Article 16. United States v. Turner, 47 M.J. 348 (1997). Article 25 (request for enlisted members to serve on panel) is also satisfied by substantial compliance. United States v. Townes, 52 M.J. 275 (2000). See also United States v. Morgan, 57 M.J. 119 (2002). [See Tab E (Court-Martial Personnel) of this Deskbook for additional information]
  • Proper convening authority. A properly constituted court-martial may try any person subject to the UCMJ, even if the accused is not under the command of the convening authority. United States v. Murphy , 30 M.J. 1040 (A.C.M.R. 1990), set aside, on other grounds , 36 M.J. 8 (C.M.A. 1992); accord, United States v. Randle , 35 M.J. 789 (A.C.M.R. 1992). See also United States v. Cantrell, 44 M.J. 711 (A.F.Ct.Crim.App. 1996). [See Tab E (Court-Martial Personnel) of this Deskbook for additional information]
  • Properly referred charges. United States v. Pate , 54 M.J. 501 (Army Ct. Crim. App. 1997). The PTA was not signed by the GCMCA, but instead the word Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) accepted was circled and a notation made indicating a voco to the SJA. The accused argued that since the CA never signed the PTA, the new charge to which the accused was pleading guilty was never referred and, therefore, the court-martial lacked jurisdiction over that charge. The Army Court held that jurisdiction existed since a proper referral does not need to be in writing and the lack of signature was insignificant. See also United States v. Williams , 55 M.J. 302 (2001). But see United States v. Henderson , 59 M.J. 350 (2004). [See Tab G (Initiation and Disposition of Charges) of this Deskbook for additional information]

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