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Uniform Code of Military Justice .
- Judge Advocate General - The head judge of the court, the Judge Advocate General is responsible for the overall management and operation of the court. This involves selecting panel members, calling the court to order, and reviewing the performance of the panel members. The JAG is selected by the Fleet Commander.
- Panel Members - Members of the court panel are members of the Senior Staff or NEO Commanding Officers. Two members are chosen at random for each trial, there are no 'sitting' panel officers.
Types of Court Martials
- General - A General Court Martial is judged by the Judge Advocate General and a panel of two other members not directly involved with the problem. The jurisdiction of a General Court Martial includes any charge. Penalties are those as laid out for individual charges.
- Preliminary Actions - Prior to a case coming to trial, a complaint is generally made to the Judge Advocate General (Or Fleet Chief of Staff, Fleet Executive Officer, or Fleet Commanding Officer in the absence of an appointed JAG Officer). The Judge Advocate General then investigates both sides of the situation and determines if charges are warranted. In some situations, the Judge Advocate General may decide to issue administrative punishment approved by the Senior Staff rather than bring a case to trial. In other situations, there may be no grounds for a trial and the case would be dismissed. In the case of there being valid charges, the JAG compiles all the evidence relating to the incident, draft appropriate charges and submit the documentation for Court Martial. Only the Fleet Commanding Officer may override the decision of the NEO JAG in trial preperation (with the XO being the officer to override in situations involving the FCO).
- Opening the Trial - Upon the processing of the evidence, the trial case is opened. The Judge Advocate General will send out an e-mail to the defendant alerting them of the charge(s), as well as the plaintiff. Any two officers would be selected by the plaintiff and defendant, they should be COs if possible, if not then at least Lieutenant Commanders. One would present the case for the plaintiff (or provide advice should they wish to make their own case), the other for the Defendant (or provide advice should they wish to make their own case).
- During the case, the accused may wish to present new or extra evidence to support their case. In order to verify the truth of the submission, the accused must give the evidence to the Judge Advocate General. The JAG will then verify the accuracy of the information and submit it to the trial panel. The JAG has the power to deny submission if he feels the submission is not relevant in the case. If the submission is approved and passed onto the trial panel. New evidence can only be submitted at this time.
- Right of Challenge - At this stage, the accused as the right to challenge a particular panel member to his or her case. The most common grounds for this would be the accused believing they would not get a fair trial with the current selection of panel members. If one of the panel is challenged, the Judge Advocate General can judge if there is grounds for the challenge. If the Judge Advocate General is challenged, the review of this goes to the Fleet Commander. In either situation, if it is decided there is the possibility of bias, the challenged court officer is replaced. Reasons for challenging include
- Bias towards or against the accused party
- Involvement in the case either in reporting the original offense or being in the evidence
- A belief of the accused that the court official is not appropriate for the case.
- Pleas of the Accused - After the challenging phase, the accused is then required to enter a plea to each charge within five (5) days. If the accused believes they are innocent of a charge, they must include supporting evidence or mitigating circumstances for the dismissal of the charge. The accused can, at this time, ask the Judge Advocate General any questions they may have about the judicial process.
- Presentation of Case - At this time, the two selected officers present their respective cases, with the plaintiff starting first. After both sides have presented, each side has a chance to respond in rebuttal.
- Voting and Verdict - After the submission of evidence and the presentation of the cases, the panel submit their verdicts to the Judge Advocate General. The submission should include the verdict for each charge, as well as a reason for their decision. A majority is needed for the accused to be convicted of a charge.
- Closing the Trial - When a final verdict is decided, all relevant parties are informed. The sentence is issued by the JAG (in accordance to the UCMJ) and if the defendant is found guilty, the JAG carries out the punishment.
Guidelines for Sentences
- Senteces are based upon what class of offense the accused's actions fall into. Below is a summary of the classes and example punishments:
- Class A
- A warning
- Public reprimand
- Class B
- Removal from position
- Class C
- Demotion and removal from position
- Class A
- Generally there are only two reasons for deviating from a punishment for a particular offense - mitigating or aggrivating circumstances.
- Examples of mitigating circumstances include:
- The accused had an outstanding record before the offense
- It was the first offense by the accused
- The accused was not fully aware that their actions was wrong
- The standard punishment would be unfair and/or unjust
- Examples of aggrivating circumstances include:
- The accused is a repeat offender
- The accused was aware their actions were against New Explorative Operations rules
- The accused showed contempt towards the court
- The offense affected a large number of members and/or hindered New Explorative Operations activities in a significant fashion
- The offense puts New Explorative Operations in a bad light or tarnishes the reputation of New Explorative Operations
- The accused holds a position of responsibility in New Explorative Operations and the offense involves abusing that responsibility
- Offenses that involve the violation of law in the real world
- Examples of mitigating circumstances include:
- The accused can appeal their sentence after the trial if they have the grounds to. Grounds for an appeal include:
- Undue bias or favoritism on the part of the investigating party or the trial panel
- Improper procedure in the investigation and execution of the case
- The charges and/or punishments were excessive or inappropriate for the crime
- The evidence was falsified, inadmissable or out of context
- New evidence has come to light
- If there are grounds for appeal, the Fleet Commander can review and adjust the case result, including verdict and/or sentencing.
- Pardons may be granted by the Fleet Commander only. Reasons for a pardon include:
- The accused was found to be innocent or given the benefit of the doubt
- The membership has shown that it does not want the sentence carried out
- The accused has been rehabilitated
- Upon being granted a pardon, a member will usually be assigned back with a minimum rank and a probationary period. The period may include a restriction on promotions, appointments and awards. Since a great amount of trust is placed in the individual upon granting of a pardon, the highest levels of conduct are also expected.
- Attempts - An act, done with specific intent to commit an offense under these articles, amounting to more than mere preparation and tending, even though failing, to effect its commission, is an attempt to commit that offense. This is generally a Class A or B offense.
- Conspiracy - An agreement between two or more persons to commit, or attempt to commit, an offense. This is generally a Class A or B offense.
- Disrespect towards a superior - An act towards a superior, either in the direct chain of command, or superior in rank or position, that mocks, degrades, insults or otherwise disrespects that superior. This is generally a Class A or B offense.
- Failure to obey an order - Failure to obey a written order or regulation (such as the Bylaws or UCMJ), a spoken or written order from a superior, follow duties of position or failure to enforce such orders or regulations. This is generally a Class B or C offense.
- Mutiny and Sedition - Willful intent to override, overthrow or disrupt the effective operation of parts of the New Explorative Operations, either alone or with other parties. This is generally a Class C offense.
- False statements - Submission of fiction, graphics, records or any other file and/or document that is forged, doctored or authored/created by another party without due credit given. This can also include false recommendations, references and falsified evidence for cases. This is generally a Class B or C offense.
- Provoking speech - Speech designed to provoke a response, including to insult, injur or bait the target. The speech can be on a public forum such as message boards and IRC or in a direct communique between the parties, such as one-on-one messages, emails, etc. This is generally a Class A offense.#
- Conduct unbecoming an officer - Conduct that reflects badly upon the reputation and standing of the New Explorative Operations. This can include behavior that is immoral, rude, insulting, etc. This is generally a Class A or B offense. Note: This charge should not be applied to actions that fall under other articles. It should be for specific actions that do not fall under other specified offenses.
- Abuse of Power - An act that involves the use of power to further a vendetta against a member, such as the blocking of promotions, awards, appointments, vilifying that member, damaging his/her reputation and/or prospects of a position, promotion or award. The abuse can also involve the unnatural favoritism towards an associate. This is generally a Class B or C offense.
- Villifying Speech - Demeaning or harassing speech based upon a member's race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, any mental and/or physical disabilities or illnesses. It should be noted that in some countries, such speech is a criminal offense. This is generally a Class B or C offense.
- Intimidation - The use of threats, such as threats of physical violence, hacking, damaging of a member's career/advancement or a general threat. This is generally a Class B or C offense.
- Extortion/Blackmail - Extortion of another member for personal gain or for gain of a third party. This is generally a Class C offense.