Practice and Procedure
A service member who has received an adverse decision by a Court of Criminal Appeals typically will receive an accompanying notice of the opportunity to submit a petition for review of that decision within 60 days to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Following receipt of a petition, the Court will notify appellate defense counsel of the opportunity to submit a Petition Supplement. The supplement describes the authority for the Court’s jurisdiction over the case, sets forth alleged errors of law, and provides legal arguments supporting the contention that there is “good cause” to grant review under Article 67 and the Court’s rules. After the supplement is filed with the Court, the Government has an opportunity to respond.

In the course of deciding whether to grant review, the Court reviews the record and the material filed by parties. If the Court grants review, the Court will identify the specific issues that will be considered on appeal. The Court may decide to review issues set forth by a party as well as issues identified by the Court. Under the Court’s practice, review of an issue requires the support of at least two of the Court’s five judges.

When the Court grants review, and in cases involving mandatory review, the parties are notified of the briefing requirements under the Court’s rules. In most cases, oral argument is scheduled following submission of briefs, but the Court decides a number of cases without oral argument. The Court notifies the parties of the oral argument date, and the oral argument schedule is posted on the Court’s website. In a typical case, each party is given 20 minutes to present argument to the Court.

Most of the Court’s oral arguments are held at its courthouse in Washington, D.C. On occasion, as part of the Court’s judicial outreach program, the Court will hold arguments at law schools, military bases, and other public facilities. This practice, known as Project Outreach, was developed as part of a public awareness program to demonstrate the operation of a federal court of appeals and the military criminal justice system.

The judges regularly meet in conference to discuss recently argued cases. As a matter of custom, there is full discussion of each case followed by a tentative vote. If the Chief Judge is in the majority, the Chief Judge assigns the responsibility for drafting an opinion to a judge in the majority. If the Chief Judge is not in the majority, the next senior judge in the majority assigns the case. After an opinion is drafted, it is circulated to all judges, who have the opportunity to concur, comment, or submit a separate opinion. After the judges have had an opportunity to express their views in writing, the opinion is released to the parties and the public.

Each Judge Advocate General has established separate appellate divisions to represent the government and the defense before the Courts of Criminal Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the Supreme Court of the United States regardless of indigency. A servicemember whose case is eligible for review is entitled to free representation by government-furnished counsel, and also may be represented by civilian counsel provided at the servicemember’s own expense.

Counsel appearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces must be admitted to the Bar of the Court or obtain permission of the Court to appear in a specific case. An application for membership in the Court’s bar may be obtained from the Court’s website. Over 36,000 attorneys have been admitted to practice since the Court was established in 1951.

(Page updated 5/15/17)


The Court has issued Rules of Practice and Procedure, which may be obtained on this website.


United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces • 450 E Street, NW Washington, DC 20442-0001
(202) 761-1448 / DSN 763-1448 • (202) 761-4672 fax