military law


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Related to military law: martial law

military law,

system of rules established for the government of persons in the armed forces. In most countries the legislature establishes the code of military law. It is distinguished from both martial lawmartial law,
temporary government and control by military authorities of a territory or state, when war or overwhelming public disturbance makes the civil authorities of the region unable to enforce its law.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (rule by domestic military forces over an area) and military governmentmilitary government,
rule of enemy territory under military occupation. It is distinguished from martial law, which is the temporary rule by domestic armed forces over disturbed areas.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (rule by the military over occupied foreign territory). The scope of military law differs somewhat in peace and in war. In time of peace it is generally limited to military offenses—e.g., absence without leave, desertion, breach of orders; during war it usually extends to crimes of a civil nature as well, and the penalties may be more severe.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice

Regular systems of military law existed in ancient Rome, with severe penalties for such offenses as desertion. In the Middle Ages procedures were less regularized, but written codes began to appear. The origin of much military law is found in the codes and statutes enacted in England in the 17th cent. These were substantially adopted in the United States.

It was widely felt after World War II that many abuses had occurred in the administration of American military justice and that excessively severe sentences had been imposed, especially on the enlisted ranks. The armed forces responded by establishing civilian review boards, which recommended reduction of the punishment inflicted on a large percentage of those convicted (some 100,000) by general court-martial during the war. In 1951, Congress extensively revised the codes of military law enacting a uniform code of military justice for all branches of the armed services. This code placed operations more in the hands of professional lawyers and ensured fairer review procedures.

An important change permitted an enlisted person tried by a general court-martial to demand that one third of the court be composed of enlisted personnel. The uniform code defines the offenses for which a person under the jurisdiction of the armed forces may be subjected to court-martial. In addition to allowing punishments by the commanding officer, including confinement not to exceed one week, the code establishes three levels of court-martial. The summary court-martial consists of a single officer, and may impose a maximum penalty of imprisonment for one month. The special court-martial consists of at least three officers and may impose a prison sentence of up to six months. The general court-martial is composed of five members and one law officer who must be a trained lawyer admitted to practice before a state's highest court. The general court-martial may impose any authorized sentence including dishonorable discharge or death.

One of the principal differences between the procedure in court-martial and in criminal cases in civil courts is the absence of a jury. Cases are decided by a vote of two thirds or three fourths of the court, depending on the severity of the offense. For the death penalty, the vote must be unanimous. The accused is permitted to have counsel, to compel the attendance of witnesses, and to enjoy the usual protections of the law of evidence.

Bibliography

See W. B. Aycock and S. W. Wurfel, Military Law under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (1955, repr. 1973); R. O. Everett, Military Justice in the Armed Forces of the United States (1956); R. S. Rivkin, G.I. Rights and Army Justice (1970); W. E. Schug, United States Law and the Armed Forces (1972); J. W. Bishop, Jr., Justice under Fire (1974); R. H. Kohn, ed., Military Laws of the U.S. (1979).

References in periodicals archive ?
Military Justice In Action: Annotated National Defence Legislation, Second Edition is both an insightful examination of the history and evolution of Canadian military law and a compelling call-to-action for a revitalized system that protects the rights of all armed forces personnel.
The Chairman of the International Society of Military Law and Law of War, Mr Willy Dahl said that the congress will be landmark insofar as the activities of the ISMLLW are concerned, adding that Tunisia is a model for the region and that its achievements testify to the country's civilizational heritage.
Bier's lawyer claims that both military law and state law protect her from opening confidential records.
Spokeswoman, Deborah Wetzel, added that, "Because of issues relating to military law, in September [2004] the legislature gave EDC authority to enter into agreements on behalf of the state with respect to the Armory.
In the past the military has argued that military law is not antigay, simply anti-"sodomy"--a rule that must apply equally to gays and straights.
The journals Military Law Review and The Army Lawyer are now seeking submissions for a special issue and commemorative series on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The big problem is the fuzzy status of adultery under military law.