UCMJ – United States Code of Military Justice

07. Trial Procedure

854. ARTICLE 54. Record of trial

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

(a) Each general court-martial shall keep a separate record of the proceedings in each case brought before it, and the record shall be authenticated by the signature of the military judge. If the record cannot be authenticated by the military judge by reason of his death, disability, or absence, it shall be authenticated by the signature of the trial counsel or by that of a member if the trial counsel is unable to authenticate it by reason of his death, disability, or absence. In a court-martial consisting of only a military judge the record shall be authenticated by the court reporter under the same conditions which would impose such a duty on a member under this subsection.

(b) Each special and summary court-martial shall keep a separate record of the proceedings in each case, and the record shall be authenticated in the manner required by such regulations as the President may prescribe.

(c)
(1) A complete record of the proceedings and testimony shall be prepared—
(A) in each general court-martial case in which the sentence adjudged includes death, a dismissal, a discharge, or (if the sentence adjudged does not include a discharge) any other punishment which exceeds that which may otherwise be adjudged by a special court-martial; and
(B) in each special court-martial case in which the sentence adjudged includes a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for more than six months, or forfeiture of pay for more than six months.
(2) In all other court-martial cases, the record shall contain such matters as may be prescribed by regulations of the President.

(d) A copy of the record of the proceedings of each general and special court-martial shall be given to the accused as soon as it is authenticated.

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853. ARTICLE 53. Court to announce action

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A court-martial shall announce its findings and sentence to the parties as soon as determined.

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852. ARTICLE 52. Number of votes required

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

(a)

(1) No person may be convicted of an offense for which the death penalty is made mandatory by law, except by the concurrence of all the members of the court-martial present at the time the vote is taken.
(2) No person may be convicted of any other offense, except as provided in section 845 (b) of this title (article 45(b)) or by the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present at the time the vote is taken.

(b)
(1) No person may be sentenced to suffer death, except by the concurrence of all the members of the court-martial present at the time the vote is taken and for an offense in this chapter expressly made punishable by death.
(2) No person may be sentenced to life imprisonment or to confinement for more than ten years, except by the concurrence of three-fourths of the members present at the time the vote is taken.
(3) All other sentences shall be determined by the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present at the time the vote is taken.

(c) All other questions to be decided by the members of a general or special court-martial shall be determined by a majority vote, but a determination to reconsider a finding of guilty or to reconsider a sentence, with a view toward decreasing it, may be made by any lesser vote which indicates that the reconsideration is not opposed by the number of votes required for that finding or sentence. A tie vote on a challenge disqualifies the member challenged. A tie vote on a motion for a finding of not guilty or on a motion relating to the question of the accused’s sanity is a determination against the accused. A tie vote on any other question is a determination in favor of the accused.

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851. ARTICLE 51. Voting and rulings

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(a) Voting by members of a general or special court-martial on the findings and on the sentence, and by members of a court-martial without a military judge upon questions of challenge, shall be by secret written ballot. The junior member of the court shall count the votes. The count shall be checked by the president, who shall forthwith announce the result of the ballot to the members of the court.

(b) The military judge and, except for questions of challenge, the president of a court-martial without a military judge shall rule upon all questions of law and all interlocutory questions arising during the proceedings. Any such ruling made by the military judge upon any question of law or any interlocutory question other than the factual issue of mental responsibility of the accused, or by the president of a court-martial without a military judge upon any question of law other than a motion for a finding of not guilty, is final and constitutes the ruling of the court. However, the military judge or the president of a court-martial without a military judge may change his ruling at any time during trial. Unless the ruling is final, if any member objects thereto, the court shall be cleared and closed and the question decided by a voice vote as provided in section 852 of this title (article 52), beginning with the junior in rank.

(c) Before a vote is taken on the findings, the military judge or the president of a court-martial without a military judge shall, in the presence of the accused and counsel, instruct the members of the court as to the elements of the offense and charge them—

(1) that the accused must be presumed to be innocent until his guilt is established by legal and competent evidence beyond reasonable doubt;
(2) that in the case being considered, if there is a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused, the doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused and he must be acquitted;
(3) that, if there is a reasonable doubt as to the degree of guilt, the finding must be in a lower degree as to which there is no reasonable doubt; and
(4) that the burden of proof to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt is upon the United States.

(d) Subsections (a), (b), and (c) do not apply to a court-martial composed of a military judge only. The military judge of such a court-martial shall determine all questions of law and fact arising during the proceedings and, if the accused is convicted, adjudge an appropriate sentence. The military judge of such a court-martial shall make a general finding and shall in addition on request find the facts specially. If an opinion or memorandum of decision is filed, it will be sufficient if the findings of fact appear therein.

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850a. ARTICLE 50a. Defense of lack of mental responsibility

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(a) It is an affirmative defense in a trial by court-martial that, at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the accused, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of the acts. Mental disease or defect does not otherwise constitute a defense.

(b) The accused has the burden of proving the defense of lack of mental responsibility by clear and convincing evidence.

(c) Whenever lack of mental responsibility of the accused with respect to an offense is properly at issue, the military judge, or the president of a court-martial without a military judge, shall instruct the members of the court as to the defense of lack of mental responsibility under this section and charge them to find the accused—

(1) guilty;
(2) not guilty; or
(3) not guilty only by reason of lack of mental responsibility.

(d) Subsection (c) does not apply to a court-martial composed of a military judge only. In the case of a court-martial composed of a military judge only, whenever lack of mental responsibility of the accused with respect to an offense is properly at issue, the military judge shall find the accused—

(1) guilty;
(2) not guilty; or
(3) not guilty only by reason of lack of mental responsibility.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 852 of this title (article 52), the accused shall be found not guilty only by reason of lack of mental responsibility if—

(1) a majority of the members of the court-martial present at the time the vote is taken determines that the defense of lack of mental responsibility has been established; or
(2) in the case of a court-martial composed of a military judge only, the military judge determines that the defense of lack of mental responsibility has been established.

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850. ARTICLE 50. Admissibility of records of courts of inquiry

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(a) In any case not capital and not extending to the dismissal of a commissioned officer, the sworn testimony, contained in the duly authenticated record of proceedings of a court of inquiry, of a person whose oral testimony cannot be obtained, may, if otherwise admissible under the rules of evidence, be read in evidence by any party before a court-martial or military commission if the accused was a party before the court of inquiry and if the same issue was involved or if the accused consents to the introduction of such evidence. This section does not apply to a military commission established under chapter 47A of this title.

(b) Such testimony may be read in evidence only by the defense in capital cases or cases extending to the dismissal of a commissioned officer.

(c) Such testimony may also be read in evidence before a court of inquiry or a military board.

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849. ARTICLE 49. Depositions

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(a) At any time after charges have been signed as provided in section 830 of this title (article 30), any party may take oral or written depositions unless the military judge or court-martial without a military judge hearing the case or, if the case is not being heard, an authority competent to convene a court-martial for the trial of those charges forbids it for good cause. If a deposition is to be taken before charges are referred for trial, such an authority may designate commissioned officers to represent the prosecution and the defense and may authorize those officers to take the deposition of any witness.

(b) The party at whose instance a deposition is to be taken shall give to every other party reasonable written notice of the time and place for taking the deposition.

(c) Depositions may be taken before and authenticated by any military or civil officer authorized by the laws of the United States or by the laws of the place where the deposition is taken to administer oaths.

(d) A duly authenticated deposition taken upon reasonable notice to the other parties, so far as otherwise admissible under the rules of evidence, may be read in evidence or, in the case of audiotape, videotape, or similar material, may be played in evidence before any military court or commission in any case not capital, or in any proceeding before a court of inquiry or military board, if it appears—

(1) that the witness resides or is beyond the State, Commonwealth, or District of Columbia in which the court, commission, or board is ordered to sit, or beyond 100 miles from the place of trial or hearing;

(2) that the witness by reason of death, age, sickness, bodily infirmity, imprisonment, military necessity, nonamenability to process, or other reasonable cause, is unable or refuses to appear and testify in person at the place of trial or hearing; or

(3) that the present whereabouts of the witness is unknown.

(e) Subject to subsection (d), testimony by deposition may be presented by the defense in capital cases.

(f) Subject to subsection (d), a deposition may be read in evidence or, in the case of audiotape, videotape, or similar material, may be played in evidence in any case in which the death penalty is authorized but is not mandatory, whenever the convening authority directs that the case be treated as not capital, and in such a case a sentence of death may not be adjudged by the court-martial.

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848. ARTICLE 48. Contempts

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A court-martial, provost court, or military commission may punish for contempt any person who uses any menacing word, sign, or gesture in its presence, or who disturbs its proceedings by any riot or disorder. The punishment may not exceed confinement for 30 days or a fine of $100, or both. This section does not apply to a military commission established under chapter 47A of this title.

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846. ARTICLE 46. Opportunity to obtain witnesses and other evidence

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The trial counsel, the defense counsel, and the court-martial shall have equal opportunity to obtain witnesses and other evidence in accordance with such regulations as the President may prescribe. Process issued in court-martial cases to compel witnesses to appear and testify and to compel the production of other evidence shall be similar to that which courts of the United States having criminal jurisdiction may lawfully issue and shall run to any part of the United States, or the Commonwealths and possessions.

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845. ARTICLE 45. Pleas of the accused

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(a) If an accused after arraignment makes an irregular pleading, or after a plea of guilty sets up matter inconsistent with the plea, or if it appears that he has entered the plea of guilty improvidently or through lack of understanding of its meaning and effect, or if he fails or refuses to plead, a plea of not guilty shall be entered in the record, and the court shall proceed as though he had pleaded not guilty.

(b) A plea of guilty by the accused may not be received to any charge or specification alleging an offense for which the death penalty may be adjudged. With respect to any other charge or specification to which a plea of guilty has been made by the accused and accepted by the military judge or by a court-martial without a military judge, a finding of guilty of the charge or specification may, if permitted by regulations of the Secretary concerned, be entered immediately without vote. This finding shall constitute the finding of the court unless the plea of guilty is withdrawn prior to announcement of the sentence, in which event the proceedings shall continue as though the accused had pleaded not guilty.

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844. ARTICLE 44. Former jeopardy

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(a) No person may, without his consent, be tried a second time for the same offense.
(b) No proceeding in which an accused has been found guilty by a court-martial upon any charge or specification is a trial in the sense of this article until the finding of guilty has become final after review of the case has been fully completed.
(c) A proceeding which, after the introduction of evidence but before a finding, is dismissed or terminated by the convening authority or on motion of the prosecution for failure of available evidence or witnesses without any fault of the accused is a trial in the sense of this article.

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843. ARTICLE 43. Statute of limitations

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(a) A person charged with absence without leave or missing movement in time of war, with murder, rape, or rape of a child, or with any other offense punishable by death, may be tried and punished at any time without limitation.
(b)
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section (article), a person charged with an offense is not liable to be tried by court-martial if the offense was committed more than five years before the receipt of sworn charges and specifications by an officer exercising summary court-martial jurisdiction over the command.
(2)
(A) A person charged with having committed a child abuse offense against a child is liable to be tried by court-martial if the sworn charges and specifications are received during the life of the child or within five years after the date on which the offense was committed, whichever provides a longer period, by an officer exercising summary court-martial jurisdiction with respect to that person.
(B) In subparagraph (A), the term “child abuse offense” means an act that involves abuse of a person who has not attained the age of 16 years and constitutes any of the following offenses:
(i) Any offense in violation of section 920 of this title (article 120).
(ii) Maiming in violation of section 924 of this title (article 124).
(iii) Sodomy in violation of section 925 of this title (article 125).
(iv) Aggravated assault or assault consummated by a battery in violation of section 928 of this title (article 128).
(v) Kidnaping; [1] indecent assault; [1] assault with intent to commit murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, or sodomy, or indecent acts or liberties with a child in violation of section 934 of this title (article 134).
(C) In subparagraph (A), the term “child abuse offense” includes an act that involves abuse of a person who has not attained the age of 18 years and would constitute an offense under chapter 110 or 117 of title 18 or under section 1591 of that title.
(3) A person charged with an offense is not liable to be punished under section 815 of this title (article 15) if the offense was committed more than two years before the imposition of punishment.
(c) Periods in which the accused is absent without authority or fleeing from justice shall be excluded in computing the period of limitation prescribed in this section (article).
(d) Periods in which the accused was absent from territory in which the United States has the authority to apprehend him, or in the custody of civil authorities, or in the hands of the enemy, shall be excluded in computing the period of limitation prescribed in this article.
(e) For an offense the trial of which in time of war is certified to the President by the Secretary concerned to be detrimental to the prosecution of the war or inimical to the national security, the period of limitation prescribed in this article is extended to six months after the termination of hostilities as proclaimed by the President or by a joint resolution of Congress.
(f) When the United States is at war, the running of any statute of limitations applicable to any offense under this chapter—
(1) involving fraud or attempted fraud against the United States or any agency thereof in any manner, whether by conspiracy or not;
(2) committed in connection with the acquisition, care, handling, custody, control, or disposition of any real or personal property of the United States; or
(3) committed in connection with the negotiation, procurement, award, performance, payment, interim financing, cancellation, or other termination or settlement, of any contract, subcontract, or purchase order which is connected with or related to the prosecution of the war, or with any disposition of termination inventory by any war contractor or Government agency;
is suspended until three years after the termination of hostilities as proclaimed by the President or by a joint resolution of Congress.
(g)
(1) If charges or specifications are dismissed as defective or insufficient for any cause and the period prescribed by the applicable statute of limitations—
(A) has expired; or
(B) will expire within 180 days after the date of dismissal of the charges and specifications,
trial and punishment under new charges and specifications are not barred by the statute of limitations if the conditions specified in paragraph (2) are met.
(2) The conditions referred to in paragraph (1) are that the new charges and specifications must—
(A) be received by an officer exercising summary court-martial jurisdiction over the command within 180 days after the dismissal of the charges or specifications; and
(B) allege the same acts or omissions that were alleged in the dismissed charges or specifications (or allege acts or omissions that were included in the dismissed charges or specifications).

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842. ARTICLE 42. Oaths

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

(a) Before performing their respective duties, military judges, members of general and special courts-martial, trial counsel, assistant trial counsel, defense counsel, assistant or associate defense counsel, reporters, and interpreters shall take an oath to perform their duties faithfully. The form of the oath, the time and place of the taking thereof, the manner of recording the same, and whether the oath shall be taken for all cases in which these duties are to be performed or for a particular case, shall be as prescribed in regulations of the Secretary concerned. These regulations may provide that an oath to perform faithfully duties as a military judge, trial counsel, assistant trial counsel, defense counsel, or assistant or associate defense counsel may be taken at any time by any judge advocate or other person certified to be qualified or competent for the duty, and if such an oath is taken it need not again be taken at the time the judge advocate or other person is detailed to that duty.

(b) Each witness before a court-martial shall be examined on oath.

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841. ARTICLE 41. Challenges

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

(a)
(1) The military judge and members of a general or special court-martial may be challenged by the accused or the trial counsel for cause stated to the court. The military judge, or, if none, the court, shall determine the relevancy and validity of challenges for cause, and may not receive a challenge to more than one person at a time. Challenges by the trial counsel shall ordinarily be presented and decided before those by the accused are offered.
(2) If exercise of a challenge for cause reduces the court below the minimum number of members required by section 816 of this title (article 16), all parties shall (notwithstanding section 829 of this title (article 29)) either exercise or waive any challenge for cause then apparent against the remaining members of the court before additional members are detailed to the court. However, peremptory challenges shall not be exercised at that time.
(b)
(1) Each accused and the trial counsel are entitled initially to one peremptory challenge of members of the court. The military judge may not be challenged except for cause.
(2) If exercise of a peremptory challenge reduces the court below the minimum number of members required by section 816 of this title (article 16), the parties shall (notwithstanding section 829 of this title (article 29)) either exercise or waive any remaining peremptory challenge (not previously waived) against the remaining members of the court before additional members are detailed to the court.
(c) Whenever additional members are detailed to the court, and after any challenges for cause against such additional members are presented and decided, each accused and the trail [1] counsel are entitled to one peremptory challenge against members not previously subject to peremptory challenge.

[1] So in original. Probably should be “trial”.

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840. ARTICLE 40. Continuances

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

The military judge or a court-martial without a military judge may, for reasonable cause, grant a continuance to any party for such time, and as often, as may appear to be just.

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839. ARTICLE 39. Sessions

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

(a) At any time after the service of charges which have been referred for trial to a court-martial composed of a military judge and members, the military judge may, subject to section 835 of this title (article 35), call the court into session without the presence of the members for the purpose of—
(1) hearing and determining motions raising defenses or objections which are capable of determination without trial of the issues raised by a plea of not guilty;
(2) hearing and ruling upon any matter which may be ruled upon by the military judge under this chapter, whether or not the matter is appropriate for later consideration or decision by the members of the court;
(3) if permitted by regulations of the Secretary concerned, holding the arraignment and receiving the pleas of the accused; and
(4) performing any other procedural function which may be performed by the military judge under this chapter or under rules prescribed pursuant to section 836 of this title (article 36) and which does not require the presence of the members of the court.
(b) Proceedings under subsection (a) shall be conducted in the presence of the accused, the defense counsel, and the trial counsel and shall be made a part of the record. These proceedings may be conducted notwithstanding the number of members of the court and without regard to section 829 of this title (article 29). If authorized by regulations of the Secretary concerned, and if at least one defense counsel is physically in the presence of the accused, the presence required by this subsection may otherwise be established by audiovisual technology (such as videoteleconferencing technology).
(c) When the members of a court-martial deliberate or vote, only the members may be present. All other proceedings, including any other consultation of the members of the court with counsel or the military judge, shall be made a part of the record and shall be in the presence of the accused, the defense counsel, the trial counsel, and, in cases in which a military judge has been detailed to the court, the military judge.
(d) The findings, holdings, interpretations, and other precedents of military commissions under chapter 47A of this title—
(1) may not be introduced or considered in any hearing, trial, or other proceeding of a court-martial under this chapter; and
(2) may not form the basis of any holding, decision, or other determination of a court-martial.

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838. ARTICLE 38. Duties of trial counsel and defense counsel

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(a) The trial counsel of a general or special court-martial shall prosecute in the name of the United States, and shall, under the direction of the court, prepare the record of the proceedings.

(b)

(1) The accused has the right to be represented in his defense before a general or special court-martial or at an investigation under section 832 of this title (article 32) as provided in this subsection.
(2) The accused may be represented by civilian counsel if provided by him.

(3) The accused may be represented—

(A) by military counsel detailed under section 827 of this title (article 27); or

(B) by military counsel of his own selection if that counsel is reasonably available (as determined under regulations prescribed under paragraph (7)).

(4) If the accused is represented by civilian counsel, military counsel detailed or selected under paragraph (3) shall act as associate counsel unless excused at the request of the accused.
(5) Except as provided under paragraph (6), if the accused is represented by military counsel of his own selection under paragraph (3)(B), any military counsel detailed under paragraph (3)(A) shall be excused.

(6) The accused is not entitled to be represented by more than one military counsel. However, the person authorized under regulations prescribed under section 827 of this title (article 27) to detail counsel, in his sole discretion—

(A) may detail additional military counsel as assistant defense counsel; and

(B) if the accused is represented by military counsel of his own selection under paragraph (3)(B), may approve a request from the accused that military counsel detailed under paragraph (3)(A) act as associate defense counsel.

(7) The Secretary concerned shall, by regulation, define “reasonably available” for the purpose of paragraph (3)(B) and establish procedures for determining whether the military counsel selected by an accused under that paragraph is reasonably available. Such regulations may not prescribe any limitation based on the reasonable availability of counsel solely on the grounds that the counsel selected by the accused is from an armed force other than the armed force of which the accused is a member. To the maximum extent practicable, such regulations shall establish uniform policies among the armed forces while recognizing the differences in the circumstances and needs of the various armed forces. The Secretary concerned shall submit copies of regulations prescribed under this paragraph to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives.

(c) In any court-martial proceeding resulting in a conviction, the defense counsel—

(1) may forward for attachment to the record of proceedings a brief of such matters as he determines should be considered in behalf of the accused on review (including any objection to the contents of the record which he considers appropriate);
(2) may assist the accused in the submission of any matter under section860 of this title (article 60); and

(3) may take other action authorized by this chapter.

(d) An assistant trial counsel of a general court-martial may, under the direction of the trial counsel or when he is qualified to be a trial counsel as required by section 827 of this title (article 27), perform any duty imposed by law, regulation, or the custom of the service upon the trial counsel of the court. An assistant trial counsel of a special court-martial may perform any duty of the trial counsel.
(e) An assistant defense counsel of a general or special court-martial may, under the direction of the defense counsel or when he is qualified to be the defense counsel as required by section 827 of this title (article 27), perform any duty imposed by law, regulation, or the custom of the service upon counsel for the accused.
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837. ARTICLE 37. Unlawfully influencing action of court

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

(a) No authority convening a general, special, or summary court-martial, nor any other commanding officer, may censure, reprimand, or admonish the court or any member, military judge, or counsel thereof, with respect to the findings or sentence adjudged by the court, or with respect to any other exercise of its or his functions in the conduct of the proceeding. No person subject to this chapter may attempt to coerce or, by any unauthorized means, influence the action of a court-martial or any other military tribunal or any member thereof, in reaching the findings or sentence in any case, or the action of any convening, approving, or reviewing authority with respect to his judicial acts. The foregoing provisions of the subsection shall not apply with respect to
(1) general instructional or informational courses in military justice if such courses are designed solely for the purpose of instructing members of a command in the substantive and procedural aspects of courts-martial, or
(2) to statements and instructions given in open court by the military judge, president of a special court-martial, or counsel.
(b) In the preparation of an effectiveness, fitness, or efficiency report, or any other report or document used in whole or in part for the purpose of determining whether a member of the armed forces is qualified to be advanced, in grade, or in determining the assignment or transfer of a member of the armed forces or in determining whether a member of the armed forces should be retained on active duty, no person subject to this chapter may, in preparing any such report
(1) consider or evaluate the performance of duty of any such member as a member of a court-martial, or
(2) give a less favorable rating or evaluation of any member of the armed forces because of the zeal with which such member, as counsel, represented any accused before a court-martial.

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836. ARTICLE 36. President may prescribe rules

by on Jul.22, 2010, under 07. Trial Procedure

(a) Pretrial, trial, and post-trial procedures, including modes of proof, for cases arising under this chapter triable in courts-martial, military commissions and other military tribunals, and procedures for courts of inquiry, may be prescribed by the President by regulations which shall, so far as he considers practicable, apply the principles of law and the rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United States district courts, but which may not, except as provided in chapter 47A of this title, be contrary to or inconsistent with this chapter.

(b) All rules and regulations made under this article shall be uniform insofar as practicable, except insofar as applicable to military commissions established under chapter 47A of this title.

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