Explanation of how the summary court-martial is unique to the military:
- The SCM has no civilian equivalent. It is strictly a creature of statute within the military system. At first blush, it may appear to be something of a paradox to those unfamiliar with the military justice system.
- Although it is a criminal proceeding at which the technical rules of evidence apply, and at which a finding of guilty can result in loss of liberty and property, there is no constitutional right to representation by counsel.
Supreme Court Review. The United States Supreme Court examined the SCM procedure and held that a SCM was not a “criminal prosecution” within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment. As such, there is no right to counsel at a SCM. Middendorf v. Henry , 425 U.S. 25 (1976). The Court cited its rationale previously expressed in Toth v. Quarles , 350 U.S. 11 (1955)