At the conclusion of the court-martial, the convening authority (usually the base commander) has the authority to either approve or disapprove the conviction and the sentence, either in whole or in part. This is commonly referred to as the clemency process of “1105 submission.” This is due to the fact that the authority to ask the convening authority to either reduce the punishment or overturn the conviction comes from Rule for Court-Martial 1105.
Once the record of the trial, or transcript, is completed, it is “served” on the defense counsel and the accused. The accused then has ten days to ask the convening authority for clemency. This ten day period can be extended for twenty additional days. The submission to the convening authority is an important step in the court-martial process. Great care should be taken in the preparation of the clemency petition. An attorney with experience in courts-martial and courts-martial appeals can assist in the preparation of the clemency petition. Even though the convening authority has not taken final action on the sentence, any sentence of confinement begins immediately after the trial is over, unless deferred by the convening authority.
Once the convening authority takes final action, if the approved sentence includes confinement for more than one year, a punitive discharge or death, the case is automatically referred to the Court of Criminal Appeals. This court consists of panels of three military appellate judges, whose sole job is to review courts-martial appeals. At this stage, the service member is provided with a military attorney from the Defense Appellate Division of his or her service. In addition, the service member can retain a civilian attorney to represent him before the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals
Navy Court of Criminal Appeals
Army Court of Criminal Appeals
Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals
If the sentence does not meet the above requirements, an appeal is then processed by the office of the Judge Advocate General for your service.