Ortiz v. United States

Congress has long provided for specialized military courts to adjudicate charges against service members. Today, courts-martial hear cases involving crimes unconnected with military service. They are also subject to several tiers of appellate review, and thus are part of an integrated “court-martial system” that resembles civilian structures of justice. That system begins with the court-martial itself, a tribunal that determines guilt or innocence and levies punishment, up to lifetime imprisonment or execution. The next phase occurs at one of four appellate courts: the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) for the Army, Navy-Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard. They review decisions where the sentence is a punitive discharge, incarceration for more than one year, or death. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) sits atop the court-martial system. The CAAF is a “court of record” composed of five civilian judges, 10 U. S. C. §941, which must review certain weighty cases and may review others. Finally, 28 U. S. C. §1259 gives this Court jurisdiction to review the CAAF’s decisions by writ of certiorari. 16-1423_new_dd9l