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

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 (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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