Courts of Honor, Officers
Courts of Honor, Officers’
(1) In foreign states and in prerevolutionary Russia, elected bodies of officers, designed to protect the honor of the officer caste. Officers’ courts of honor were first established in Prussia in 1808; in Russia they were instituted in 1863. Officers’ courts of honor considered disputes between officers and dealt with conduct incompatible with military honor, valor, morality, and nobility. They could acquit the accused, reprimand him, or decide to discharge him from the unit or from military service altogether. Appeals of decisions were not allowed. Under the Statute of 1894, the officers’ courts of honor in regiments consisted of seven members and two alternates elected for a term of one year from among field-grade officers and company officers not lower than the rank of staff captain; in other units, they consisted of five members and two alternates. The decision to submit a case to the officers’ court of honor rested with the commander of the unit in which the court was established.
(2) The officers’ courts of honor in the armed forces of the USSR are elected organs of the community of officers. They were created in 1918 in the Red Army in companies and regiments; called comrades’ courts, they were the only disciplinary organs for all personnel. After the adoption of the first disciplinary rules of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army in 1919, rules that granted disciplinary rights to commanders and commissars, the comrades’ courts were soon abolished. Pursuant to a resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR on Jan. 17, 1939, comrades’ courts of honor were established for the higher political and command personnel of the Red Army.
Present-day officers’ courts of honor operate on the basis of the Statute on Comrades’ Courts of Honor for Officers in the Armed Forces of the USSR. They are formed—separately for senior and junior commissioned officers—in military units, institutions, military educational institutions, and the directorates of armies, military districts, and fleets and in the main and central directorates of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. They consist of seven to nine members, elected by secret ballot for a term of two years. Officers’ courts of honor consider cases of conduct that is unbecoming an officer or that brings discredit on military honor and cases of violations of the law by officers, which by law may be turned over to officers’ courts of honor for consideration. With regard to those found guilty, the court may pronounce a comradely warning, a censure, or a public reprimand or may petition for reduction in office or rank by one grade, for expulsion of a student officer from the institution of higher education, or for discharge of the officer from the armed forces. The decision of the court of honor may be appealed to the commander of the unit or institution in which the court is established, no later than three days after the decision is pronounced.
N. F. CHISTIAKOV