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Don't Tug on Superman's Cape: In Defense of Convening Authority Selection and Appointment of Court-Martial Panel Members

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Master's thesis

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From the earliest beginnings of our republic, military commanders have played a central role in the administration of military justice. The American military justice system, derived from its British predecessor, predates the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Although the system has evolved considerably over the years to its current state of statutory codification in the Uniform Code of Military Justice UCMJ, one thing has remained constant courts-martial in the United States military are, and always have been, ad hoc tribunals created and appointed by the order of a commander, called a convening authority, for the express purpose of considering a set of charges that the commander has referred to the court. In turn, the members of the court, who in nearly every case are under the command of the convening authority, take an oath to faithfully and impartially try, according to the evidence, THEIR conscience, and the laws applicable to trial by court-martial, the case of the accused before their court. By their oath, when they sit in judgment in a military courtroom, panel members leave behind the commander who appointed them. The modem American military justice system is a creature of statutes that draw their authority from Congresss Constitutional responsibility to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces. Its ultimate purpose is to help ensure the security of the nation by means of a well-disciplined military. No other system of justice in our nation carries an equivalent burden.

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  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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