FIRST PRINCIPLESJurisdiction: Of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

2013 (September Term)

United States v. Wilson, 73 M.J. 404 (under Article 67(a)(2), UCMJ, the CAAF shall review all cases reviewed by a CCA which the JAG orders sent to it for review; in this case, where the CCA answered in the affirmative a specified issue as to whether Article 12, UCMJ, applied to a military member serving a court-martial sentence to confinement in a civilian county jail in Georgia and the JAG certified that same issue to the CAAF, the CAAF had statutory jurisdiction to review the CCA’s decision under Article 67(a)(2), UCMJ; there was a justiciable case and controversy before the CAAF, where the CCA has rendered a final action in the case by deciding the Article 12 issue, a certificate for review was issued by the JAG, and the applicability of the Article 12 issue to appellee was interwoven with the resolution of his complaints about confinement conditions).   

2012 (September Term)

Center for Constitutional Rights v. United States, 72 M.J. 126 (the CAAF, and courts-martial in general, being creatures of Congress created under the Article I power to regulate the armed forces, must exercise their jurisdiction in strict compliance with authorizing statutes; as the Supreme Court held in Clinton v. Goldsmith, 526 US 529 (1999), when Congress exercised its power to govern and regulate the Armed Forces by establishing the CAAF, it confined the court’s jurisdiction to the review of specified sentences imposed by courts-martial; the CAAF has the power to act only with respect to the findings and sentence as approved by the court-martial’s convening authority and as affirmed or set aside as incorrect in law by the Court of Criminal Appeals). 

(the CAAF is empowered to issue extraordinary writs under the All Writs Act; that Act provides that all courts established by act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law; the express terms of the Act confine the power of the CAAF to issuing process in aid of its existing statutory jurisdiction; the Act does not enlarge that jurisdiction; as noted by the Supreme Court, the CAAF is not given authority, by the All Writs Act or otherwise, to oversee all matters arguably related to military justice; the Act does not increase the areas of the CAAF’s jurisdiction beyond the limitations set out in Article 67, UCMJ). 

(the CAAF was without jurisdiction over news organizations’ petitions for a writ of mandamus and/or prohibition to compel a court-martial to grant public access to documents filed in the court and to order the military judge to reconstitute past RCM 802 conferences and to conduct all future such conferences in a manner not inconsistent with the First Amendment right of public access; Congress confined the CAAF’s power to act only with respect to the findings and sentence as approved by the court-martial’s convening authority and as affirmed or set aside as incorrect in law by the courts of criminal appeals; the All Writs Act did not enlarge that jurisdiction; what the CAAF is asked to adjudicate amounts to a civil action, maintained by persons who are strangers to the court-martial, asking for relief - expedited access to certain documents - that has no bearing on any findings and sentence that may eventually be adjudged by the court-martial). 

2008 (September Term)

United States v. Rodriguez, 67 M.J. 110 (Article 67(b), UCMJ, provides that an accused may petition the CAAF for review of a decision of a CCA within sixty days from the earlier of the date upon which the accused is actually notified or the date upon which he or she is constructively notified of the decision of the CCA; this congressionally-created statutory period within which an accused may file a petition for grant of review is jurisdictional). 

(where appellant filed his petition for grant of review at the CAAF outside the sixty-day statutory period for the filing of such petitions, the CAAF did not have authority to entertain the petition for review because the sixty-day period was jurisdictional and could not be waived). 

(where a time limitation for an appeal is derived from a statute, the taking of an appeal within the prescribed time is mandatory and jurisdictional; statute-based rules of limitation are distinguished from those having their origin in court-created rules; there is jurisdictional significance in the fact that a time limitation is set forth in a statute because only Congress may determine a lower federal court’s subject-matter jurisdiction; in contrast, the rule-based time limit may be waived because the procedural rules adopted by a court for the orderly transaction of its business are not jurisdictional and can be relaxed by the court in the exercise of its discretion; an important distinction between the jurisdictional statute-based limitations and those created within a court’s internal rules is that the courts have no authority to create equitable exceptions to jurisdictional requirements). 

(the entire system of military justice is a creature of statute, enacted by Congress pursuant to the express constitutional grant of power to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; in Articles 141 through 146, UCMJ, Congress provided the source authority for the existence of the CAAF; the CAAF’s authority or subject matter jurisdiction is defined by Article 67, UCMJ). 

(under the plain language of Article 67(b), UCMJ, the provision governing petitions for review of CCA decisions, an appellant may file a petition for grant of review with the CAAF, and, if he or she chooses to do so, it must be done within the sixty-day time limitation; nothing within Article 67(b)’s statute-based time limitation is permissive and there is no indication that the CAAF can waive the limitation for equitable reasons). 

(the legislative history of Article 67(b), UCMJ, reflects that Congress intended the sixty-day appeal period to the CAAF to be a statute–based limitation and mandatory; only the opportunity to petition for review is permissive; the time within which to do so is not; any other construction of the relationship between opportunity to petition and the time within which to file is inconsistent with the expressed congressional desire to achieve finality; if the time limitation is triggered and an accused does not act, Congress intended the matter to end). 

(the opportunity to petition the CAAF lapses or expires by statute when the sixty-day statute-based limitation is not met, and the sixty-day limitation is jurisdictional and mandatory; relief from that time limitation does not rest in the discretion of the court; to the extent that US v. Tamez (63 MJ 201 (2006)) and earlier cases of the court are inconsistent with this holding, they are overruled).  

2008 (Transition)
 

Denedo v. United States, 66 M.J. 114 (although judicial review of immigration proceedings, including any use therein of a court-martial conviction, is outside the jurisdiction of the CAAF, the providence of a guilty plea at a court-martial is subject to its review). 

 

(although military appellate courts are among those empowered to issue extraordinary writs under the All Writs Act, the Act confines a court to issuance of process in aid of its existing statutory jurisdiction and does not enlarge that jurisdiction). 

 

(the CAAF is not given authority, by the All Writs Act or otherwise, to oversee all matters arguably related to military justice, or to act as a plenary administrator even of criminal judgments it has affirmed; there is no source of continuing jurisdiction for the CAAF over all actions administering sentences that it at one time had the power to review). 


United States v. Lopez de Victoria, 66 M.J. 67 (the CAAF, like all federal courts, is a court of limited jurisdiction; that jurisdiction is conferred ultimately by the Constitution, and immediately by statute; however, this principle does not mean that the CAAF’s jurisdiction is to be determined by teasing out a particular provision of a statute and reading it apart from the whole; since the beginning of jurisprudence under the UCMJ, the CAAF has read the statutes governing its jurisdiction as an integrated whole, with the purpose of carrying out the intent of Congress in enacting them; the CAAF believes it axiomatic that Article 67 must be interpreted in light of the overall jurisdictional concept intended by the Congress, and not through the selective narrow reading of individual sentences within the article). 

 

(the CAAF has statutory authority under Article 67(a), UCMJ, to exercise jurisdiction over decisions of the courts of criminal appeals rendered pursuant to Article 62, UCMJ). 

 

2006


United States v. Tamez
, 63 M.J. 201 (jurisdiction is the power of a court to try and determine a case and to render a valid judgment; the time limits in Article 67, UCMJ, for filing a petition for review with CAAF are not jurisdictional).


(CAAF has consistently permitted appellants to file petitions for grant of review out of time for good cause shown; such a practice is consistent with Congress’s intent that servicemembers have the opportunity to obtain appellate review in an independent civilian court; were the sixty-day timeline jurisdictional, an appellant might be without appellate recourse in CAAF regarding claims such as ineffectiveness of counsel or complaints under Article 13, UCMJ).

2003

United States v. Riley, 58 MJ 305 (the timely filing of a petition for review vests jurisdiction in CAAF and divests the CCA of jurisdiction to reconsider its decision; CAAF may, however, return jurisdiction to the lower court by a remand).

2001

 

United States v. White, 54 MJ 469 (Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has jurisdiction under Article 67(c), UCMJ, to determine on direct appeal if the adjudged and approved sentence is being executed in a manner that offends the Eight Amendment or Article 55, UCMJ; Article 67(c) grants the authority to ensure that the severity of the adjudged and approved sentence has not been unlawfully increased by prison officials, and to ensure that the sentence is executed in a manner consistent with Article 55, UCMJ, and the Constitution).

 

1999

Steele v. Van Riper,  50 MJ 89 (issuance of an administrative discharge after trial does not negate the power of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to act on the findings and sentence).


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