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Civilian and Military Tribunals Differences Essay

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Updated: Jun 11th, 2020

Five difference between civilian and military tribunals


The military courts are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the same body is responsible for creation of the military laws in the United States. The UCMJ was created in the 1950s and ever since the system has been aligning its fundamentals of justice to the national civilian justice structure. On the other hand, the civilian justice system is governed by the judiciary in accordance to the laws created by the legislative arm of the government.

Jury selection

In the civilian justice system, the accused has a right to be judged by a jury that consists of his or her peers. The jury is normally made up of 12 jurors. However, the military justice system is different since the members of the jury can only be commissioned military officers. The accused can only choose from a list of the proposed members. There is no a specific number of jurors for military cases as they can be as few as 3 and as many as 12 depending on the specific case.

Jury’s verdict

In a civilian court, the jury must reach a undivided judgment for a conviction to be deliver. In most cases, the court only requires a simple majority decision. On the other hand, military courts are strict on the jury decision making process. For a verdict to be delivered, two thirds of the juries vote is required. Therefore, the martial courts do not experience hung jury.

The appeal process

In a civilian court, the appeal process takes long before it is resolved. In most scenarios, people on death row die of ordinary causes even before their appeal is processed. With the military justice system, this is slightly different. Within the military justice system, the commanding officer who established a court-martial is capable of reducing the sentences of granting clemency.

Hassan cannot plead guilty

In civilian courts, the accused pleads guilty in order to stay away from the death penalty and to get life incarceration. In essence, a lot of time and resources are saved when this path is taken in the civilian justice system. In addition, it helps the criminal to avoid the death penalty. In the military on the other hand, the offender cannot plead guilty when the prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

Personal opinion

Is citizenship an issue to consider in allowing tribunals

Citizenship should not be considered when allowing tribunals because the offender has broken the law of the land. Considering his or her citizenship may compromise the jurisdiction of his her indictment and hence affecting the trial. Whenever the law of the land has been broken, the offender should face the full force of the law regardless of his or her nationality.

Historical use of tribunals

Tribunals were used in the by the government to settle disputes outside the legal justice jurisprudence. A tribunal is a person or an institution given the mandate by the government to conduct and solve a legal dispute outside the normal justice system. In most cases, tribunals where used in solving employment disputes, social disagreements and other culture related issues that required social and ethical consideration in creating a resolute verdict.

Issue of safeguards to justice

Justice is only served when the offenders face the full force of the penalty attached to their criminal offenses. When this is not done, then justice is not served at all. When giving certain powers to individuals who can easily influence the direction of a verdict is a very volatile decision in the American military tribunals. Currently, there are several senators drafting a policy to restrict the powers of the military commanders in the decision making process in the tribunals. This will reduce the cases of guilty officers escaping judgment and penalties for their actions.

Opposition to tribunals

Those opposed to tribunals are very articulate about the inconsistency of serving justice in the military justice system. Some people argue that tribunals are created to provide the accused an easy gateway to escape the full wrath of the law. Most cases that have been handled in tribunals have ended up in mysterious lack of enough evidence. In addition, military tribunals are also highly secretive therefore the lack of surveillance creates an easy pass for guilty officers.

Issue of retaliation for holding tribunals

Holding tribunals creates a risk of retaliation as it looks like the government is deliberately trying to humiliate in a public parade the government of the offender. This can create a situation whereby the two nations may get into a conflict.

The American justice system as a model for the world

In many ways, the American justice system forms a perfect model for the entire world system. The American justice system is one of the most developed and effective system in the world. Most of the world’s nations have aligned their justice systems to the American model due to its efficiency and speed of delivering justice.

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