All rules regarding courts-martial, as well as the official Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), are a part of AR 27-10. In addition, the regulation spells out the procedures and policies related to how the Army administers its code of military justice. Accordingly, the single most important person in within the military justice hierarchy is the Judge Advocate General (TJAG). The regulation lists all of the other personnel under the TJAG along with each person’s specific responsibilities.
AR 27-10 is a comprehensive and legalistically complex document. It contains minute details of courts-martial regulations, many of which are highly specialized and cover virtually every aspect of the procedure. The entire regulation itself consists of 27 chapters, the longest of which are the ones dealing with courts-martial laws. While not every chapter is of equal significance or length, there are various portions of AR 27-10 which warrant close scrutiny.
Chapter 3 covers non-judicial punishment, how it is administered, its rules, how appeals are handled, and how records are to be kept. Chapter 5 is a lengthy discussion of procedures for courts-martial. This part of the regulation defines the courts-martial jurisdiction and personnel in exact terms, as well as pre-trial, trial and post-trial reporting and preparation.
Following the chapter about courts-martial, the regulation discusses the Army Trial Defense Service and its organization, while Chapter 8 delves into the finer points of the Military Magistrate Program, detailing how magistrates are appointed and supervised.
Other chapters of the regulation delineate the various types of court-martial orders, oaths and appellate review procedures. Much like the civilian judicial code, the Army’s AR 27-10 lists the rights of all parties in a legal action, even spelling out witness and victim assistance policies. In fact, victim and witness assistance make up a significant component of the regulation, notably pointing out the extensive services and protection procedures for witnesses and victims within the Army legal environment.
Military justice training makes up one of the last portions of the document, which also includes a lengthy discussion about military justice and how it is applied with respect to reserve components.
Concluding the regulation is a list of helpful appendices which include an internal control checklist, a comprehensive list of attorney-client guidelines, a victim/witness checklist, and a timely treatment of DNA testing. There is much overlap between military and civilian law, but there is also much divergence. The bulk of AR 27-10 highlights those differences and explains how the specific rules are applied in each instance.
Author Larry Bell is a professional writer, comedian, and automotive enthusiast whose work can be seen at www.myperfectautomobile.com and many other online publications. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Thunderbird School of Global Management.