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48 Nw. U. L. Rev. 714 (1953-1954)
Evaluation of the United States Court of Military Appeals

handle is hein.journals/illlr48 and id is 726 raw text is: An Evaluation of the United States
Court of Military Appeals
Daniel Walker*
S OME two and one-half years ago, a new experiment in the field
of military criminal justice was launched. For the first time in
the sometimes tempestuous history of this field of law, a system
of civilian review was established in the form of the United States
Court of Military Appeals.1 There were those who argued at
the time of its inception that such a court was unnecessary, that
it would be unable to cope with purely military problems, that it
would be either over-burdened with work or uselessly idle, and
that it would have a harmful effect on military disciplinary theories
and functions.2 Since its creation, an ever-increasing number of
lawyers, members of the military, and others newly aware of the
existence of this Court, have been asking questions about its over-
all operation. Congress itself when it passed the Uniform Code
of Military Justice which created the Court was apprehensive
about the manner in which this new device would function.
It is submitted that enough time has elapsed to permit at least
a tentative evaluation of the Court's work. This task will be at-
tempted here, not in the form of a legal analysis of the Court's
decisions, but by endeavoring to answer the most challenging ques-
tions that have been asked about the Court. In making this evalua-
tion, the circumstances surrounding the birth of the Code and the
Court must be kept in mind. The Code represented the culmination
of a long history of civilian and congressional dissatisfaction with
the administration of criminal justice by the Armed Forces.3
Through the Code, Congress endeavored to make military proce-
dures and practices more nearly like those existing in civilian
courts. The military in general, with notable exceptions, made no
effort to conceal its opposition to most of the reforms wrought by
the Code.4
For those unfamiliar with the Court, its jurisdiction may be
* Member, Illinois Bar; formerly Commissioner, United States Court of Military
1. Uniform Code of Military justice, Art. 67, 64 STAT. 129 (1950), (50 U.S.C.
§654 Supp. 1952). For a description of the historical development of appellate
review of court-martial convictions, see Walker, United States Court of Military
Appeals: A Long Overdue Addition to the Judiciary, 38 A.B.A.J. 567 (1952).
2. See Walker and Niebank, The Court of Military Appeals-Its History, Organ-
ization and Operation, 6 VAND. L. Rav. 228 (1953) ; INDEX AND LEGISLATrVE HISTORY,
UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE (1950); H.R. PEP. No. 491, 81st Cong., 1st
Sess. (1949) ; SEN. REP. No. 486, 81st Cong., 1st Sess. (1949).
3. See sources cited in notes 1 and 2 supra.
4. Most of the testimony against the Code during Congressional Committee hear-
ings was presented by present and former military officers. See H.R. REP. No. 491,
81st Cong., 1st Sess. (1949); and SEN. REP. No. 486, 81st Cong., 1st Sess. (1949).

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