United States military jury

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A United States military "jury" (or "members", in military parlance) serves a function similar to an American civilian jury, but with several notable differences. Only a general court-martial (which may impose any sentences, from dishonorable discharge to death[1]) or special court-martial (which can impose sentences of up to one year of confinement and bad-conduct discharge[2]) includes members. There are no members in a trial by summary court-martial (which can impose sentences of up to 30 days of confinement[3]). If the defendant at a general or special court-martial chooses to be tried by members rather than by a military judge alone, the members are responsible for rendering both a verdict and sentence should the accused be found guilty.[4] The charges are brought forward by an officer called a "convening authority",[5] who also selects the members who try the accused.[6] The charges are prosecuted by judge advocates called "trial counsel".[7] Defendants facing general or special courts-martial are represented free of charge from judge advocates acting as defense counsel.[8] Defendants may also be represented at general or special courts-martial by civilian attorneys hired at their own expense.[9] While not required by Congressional law, service policy provides that, at summary courts-martial, many military accused receive representation from a judge advocate defense counsel free of charge.

MechanicsEdit

Jury compositionEdit

A special court-martial must have at least three members.[10] A general court-martial must have at least five members[10] unless the death penalty is a mandatory sentence, in which case there must be at least 12 members.[11] The convening authority may detail as many members to a court-martial as he or she chooses so long as the minimum number is met. The convening authority chooses "such members of the armed forces as, in his [or her] opinion, are best qualified for the duty by reason of age, education, training, experience, length of service, and judicial temperament."[12]

If the defendant is a commissioned officer, all of the members must also be commissioned officers.[13] If the defendant is a warrant officer, the members may be either commissioned officers or warrant officers.[13] If the defendant is an enlisted member of the armed forces, the members may be commissioned officers, warrant officers, and, if the defendant requests it, enlisted members.[13] If an enlisted defendant requests to be tried by a panel that includes enlisted members, at least one-third of the members must be enlisted.[14] All members of the court-martial are required to be senior or equal in rank to the defendant.[15]

VerdictsEdit

The members vote by secret written ballot on each of the allegations the accused person faces, with each member having one vote on each charge.[16] Unlike most civilian jurisdictions, a unanimous verdict is not required in most cases. Unless the death penalty is mandatory for the offense in question, the members may convict by a two-thirds majority.[17] If the death penalty is mandatory if convicted, then the members must be unanimous in their verdict.[18] As such, military juries are incapable of being a hung jury.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit