military law

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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.
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 (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.
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 (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.


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 ?
At the end of the day, Drapeau wished for attendees of the event to leave with a different perspective on how military law in our nation should be practiced.
Likewise, the application of the liberal grant mandate does nothing to ameliorate the fact that military law allows only one peremptory challenge per side in courts-martial.
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.
Military law is the term applied to the code of military discipline passed by parliament (most recently in the Armed Forces Act 2006 (UK)) and to which members of the British Army are subject (in addition to their obligation to obey the ordinary civilian law).
I don't know why military law would give the State the right to sublease a building on city land.
Bradley, Editor, Military Law Review, The Judge Advocate General's School, U.
Americans have long recognized that military law enforcement is a natural enemy of human rights and that it has always been a common characteristic of the earth's most repressive regimes.
According to him, some graduates work as instructors at this centre, others stay at military law enforcement units.
In the new second edition of Military Justice in Action: Annotated National Defense Legislation, retired Justice Gilles Letourneau and Professor Michel Drapeau offer a powerful blueprint for modernizing the Canadian military law system.
He draws on material on the assassination, the investigation and arrest of the suspects, the people involved, and issues related to the suspension of liberty and justice, in addition to the Constitution and American history before and after the case to consider when and how military law has been a substitute for civilian law.