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What Is the Manual for Courts-Martial?

Posted by Ernesto Gapasin | Dec 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

What is the Manual for Courts-Martial? Well, just as the Constitution dictates the supreme law of the United States and the dictionary defines the English language, the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) is the official guide for courts-martial in the U.S. military. Unlike the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the foundation of military law, the MCM focuses on courts-martial, which are trials conducted by the military. The manual details and expands upon the information provided in the UCMJ, acting as a thorough guidebook for anyone who needs to know about the particulars of the court-martial process.

What Is the Manual for Courts-Martial?

Officially drafted for the first time in 1951, the Manual for Courts-Martial is an executive order of the President. It contains 5 parts and 27 appendices with each part focusing on a separate piece of the puzzle:

  • Part I: The preamble provides background information, focusing on sources and exercises of jurisdiction, the nature and purpose of military law, and the structure and application of the MCM.
  • Part II: The second part provides rules for courts-martial, including general provisions, jurisdiction, the initiation of charges, the disposition of charges, the composition of a court-martial, the trial procedure, sentencing, appeals, and much more.
  • Part III: The third part centers on military rules of evidence, including sections on preliminary questions, confessions, evidence obtained from unlawful searches and seizures, eyewitness identification, classified information, witnesses, hearsay, and more.
  • Part IV: The fourth part focuses on punitive articles (i.e., punishments). Each of the part's articles center on a different crime (espionage, mutiny, desertion, rape, etc.) and provides the text of the statute, elements, an explanation, lesser included offenses, maximum punishments, and sample specifications.
  • Part V: The last part details nonjudicial punishment procedure. After providing a general review, this section imparts information regarding who may impose nonjudicial punishment, the right to demand trial, the procedure, punishments, suspending punishments, mitigating punishments, remitting punishments, setting aside punishments, appeals, and records of nonjudicial punishment.
  • The Appendices: Finally, the appendices include the U.S. Constitution, the UCMJ, historical executive orders, and forms, amongst other resources.

What is the Manual for Courts-Martial? It is the official guidebook for courts-martial in the U.S. military. So if you ever have a question regarding the composition of a court-martial, potential punishments, the gathering of evidence, essential rules, or any other detail (no matter how small) regarding courts-martial in the American military, the MCM can provide the answer. To view the entire Manual for Courts-Martial (2012 Edition), please click here.

If you or someone you know is preparing for a court-martial, contact the top-quality lawyers at Newsom & Gapasin. Whether you're under investigation, facing a court-martial, or seeking an appeal, our experienced and aggressive law firm would be happy to help. We focus on winning tough cases, some of which have been reported on by national media outlets like CNN, Fox News, Time, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. For more information, please give us a call at 1-(888) 919-8265 , send an e-mail to [email protected], or click here to contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Ernesto Gapasin



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