Changes to Jury Selection in 2019
Here are the major changes to military practice for 2019. This is a very simplified guide to give potential accused members a general idea of the changes coming for 2019.
In 2019, court-martials will have a fixed composition. A General Court-Martial will have 8 members. It could be reduced to 6 or 7 after challenges or excusals. In capital cases, the jury will have 12 members.
In a Special Court-Martial, the jury will consist of 4 members. There is a new type of Special Court-Martial that is military judge alone.
How Does Voting Work
Under the new system, a conviction will require a 3/4thvote (75%). A General Court-Martial with 8 members will require 6 votes to convict – 3 votes to acquit. A Special Court-Martial with members will require 3 votes to convict – 2 votes to acquit.
How Will Military Judge Alone Special Court-Martials Work
Under the new system, a military judge alone special court-martial will have certain sentence limitations. The judge will not be able to impose a punitive discharge, confinement for more than 6 months, or forfeitures of pay for more than 6 months.
Enlisted Members from the Same Unit as the Accused
Article 25, UCMJ was updated. Previously, enlisted members from the same unit as the accused were prohibited from serving on a jury. Now, any enlisted member is eligible to serve – including from the same unit.
The new Rule for Courts-Martial 502 (a)(2)(B) and 912 allows the Convening Authority to detail alternate members to a court-martial. They are present and hear evidence, but do not participate in deliberations.
Are there new Sentencing Rules
Under the new system, a military judge will conduct all sentencing. In a members case, the accused can elect sentencing by members.
With members sentencing, the jury will adjudge a single sentence for all offenses. With military judge sentencing, the judge will determine appropriate terms of confinement and/or fines for each specification. The judge then determines whether the sentences are concurrent or consecutive. Terms of confinement for two or more specifications will run concurrently when they involve the same victim.