Proposed change to UCMJ may involve a more limiting rule on when court-martials will be automatically reviewed by appellate courts.

Recently, the House Committee on Rules released its conference report.  In the report were proposed changes to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.  Some of these proposals involve significant changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  One of the changes that caught my eye was a proposed change to Article 66, UCMJ.  Article 66 describes when the Service Courts of Criminal Appeals will review a court-martial.  The current version of Article 66, UCMJ states that these appellate courts will conduct an automatic review of any court-martial that results in a death, dismissal, discharge, or confinement for one year or more.  The proposed amendment would modify Article 66 to direct automatic review by appellate courts of court-martials resulting in death, dismissal, discharge, or confinement for two years or more.  The proposed amendment further states that an accused may petition for review in cases involving more than 6 months confinement but less than two years confinement.  If this proposal occurs, it is a significant change to appellate review.  This change will be significant to those facing a court-martial.  If one’s conviction results in less than two years confinement and he or she is not dismissed or discharged from the service through the court-martial, the appellate courts will not review the court-martial for error unless that individual petitions for review.  This means that anyone that falls into this category will need to be proactive if they want their court-martial reviewed by their service appellate court.  Those individuals will need to petition the court for review.  I have a great deal of experience with these petitions and with court-martial appeals.  If you or your loved one is looking to seek appellate review, whether the case is set to receive automatic review or not, I can help.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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