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ARMY - DA PAM 27-9

Military Judges’ Benchbook

active, Most Current
Organization: ARMY
Publication Date: 29 February 2020
Status: active
Page Count: 2,039
scope:

PURPOSE AND SCOPE.

a. Obligations, duties, and essential characteristics of military judges.

Although the primary thrust of this Benchbook is to assist military judges in the preparation of trial instructions, military judges must constantly be mindful of their judicial responsibilities in and out of the courtroom. In this regard, additional guidance may be found in publications of such organizations as the American Bar Association, American Judicature Society, the National Judicial College, and National Conference of State Trial Judges. Particular attention should be given to the Code of Judicial Conduct and Standards for the Administration of Criminal Justice pertaining to the Special Functions of the Trial Judge as promulgated by the American Bar Association.

(1) General obligations.

(a) A military judge must maintain a thorough knowledge of military law, including all its latest developments, by careful analysis of the decisions of military appellate tribunals, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and pertinent decisions of other federal courts.

(b) A military judge must administer justice fairly and promptly, and in a simple, uniform, and efficient manner. All judges should retain a flexible trial docket to avoid unnecessary delays in the scheduling and conduct of trials. Whenever practicable and consistent with each accused's right to a speedy trial, judges should endeavor to conduct trials consecutively during specified periods and at specified locations.

(c) A military judge has responsibilities beyond deciding cases. The judge should provide statistical records of the activities of the court at regular intervals. In addition, the judge should conduct formal or informal training sessions for counsel to improve the quality of military justice.

(d) A military judge should analyze problems arising in court and, if appropriate, should recommend legislative and other changes that will improve the administration and cause of justice.

(e) A military judge should participate in judicial associations and confer with other judges, particularly with those having similar jurisdiction, to increase their competence.

(2) General duties during trials.

(a) A military judge must administer justice and faithfully, impartially, and independently perform all duties to the best of the judge's ability and understanding in accordance with the law, the evidence admitted in court, and the judge's own conscience.

(b) The judge should seek a full understanding of the factual issues and the applicable law. The judge should generally hear the arguments of counsel regarding interlocutory matters and the admissibility of evidence out of the hearing of the court members.

(c) A military judge is not merely an umpire between counsel. As a representative of justice, the judge is sworn to uphold the law and to ensure that justice is done. The judge should maintain the dignity of trial proceedings and preside with independence and impartiality. However, the judge should not unnecessarily interfere with or interrupt counsel.

(d) A military judge should refrain from displays of temper, personal pique, or manifestations of idiosyncrasies. The judge should avoid comment, conduct, or appearance that may unfairly influence court members or affect their judgment on the outcome of the case. The judge must endeavor to show restraint and understanding and to curb any tendency toward arbitrary or sarcastic remarks, bearing in mind that every word spoken during trial is not merely momentarily audible but is permanently recorded. The judge should therefore insure that all statements are uttered with due regard not only for the immediate impact upon those present, but upon all those who may subsequently examine the record in close detail.

(e) While proceedings must never be unduly protracted by an excessive display of legal acumen, or other unnecessary verbiage, they must also never be unnecessarily abbreviated by a natural reluctance to avoid repetition in similar but different cases. Through maximum use of the Military Judges' Benchbook and other aids, the judge must always skillfully maintain a prudent balance in this regard.

(f) When delivering instructions, the military judge should speak in a conversational voice, using language that is clear, simple, and understandable. The judge should avoid any inflection, act, or demeanor that suggests a personal opinion, or conveys a meaning that is not expressed in the language employed.

(3) Essential characteristics.

(a) Judicial office imposes great moral responsibilities. However, the mantle of responsibility which goes with the judge does not mean the judge must be aloof to human relations. The judge's individual character, warmth, and human qualities should not be adversely affected by judicial status but should be developed fully as necessary ingredients of a proper judicial temperament. A military judge must have a deep sense of justice and an abiding faith in the law. The judge must possess honesty and courage; wisdom and learning; courtesy and patience; thoroughness and decisiveness; understanding and social consciousness; and independence and impartiality.

(b) "The Kind of Judges We Need." One of the best descriptions of the kind of judges we need is contained in a statement by the late Chief Justice Arthur T. Vanderbilt of New Jersey, who devoted nearly all of his life to the promotion of programs to improve the administration of civilian and military justice: "We need judges learned in the law, not merely the law in books but, something far more difficult to acquire, the law as applied in action in the courtroom; judges deeply versed in the mysteries of human nature and adept in the discovery of the truth in the discordant testimony of fallible human beings; judges beholden to no man, independent and honest - equally important - believed by all men to be independent and honest; judges above all, fired with consuming zeal to mete out justice according to law to every man, woman, and child that may come before them and to preserve individual freedom against any aggression of government; judges with the humility born of wisdom, patient and untiring in the search for truth, and keenly conscious of the evils arising in a workaday world from any unnecessary delay. Judges with all of these attributes are not easy to find, but which of these traits dare we eliminate if we are to hope for evenhanded justice? Such ideal judges can after a fashion make even an inadequate system of substantive law achieve justice; on the other hand, judges who lack these qualifications will defeat the best system of substantive and procedural law imaginable."

b. Primary objective.

This Benchbook is primarily designed to assist military judges of courts-martial in the drafting of necessary instructions to courts. Since instructional requirements vary in each case, the pattern instructions are intended only as guides from which the actual instructions are to be drafted. In addition, this publication is designed to suggest workable solutions for many specific problems which may arise at a trial and to guide the military judge past certain pitfalls which might otherwise result in error. Specific examples of situations with which the military judge may have to deal are set forth herein, and in many instances actual language which may be employed in meeting these situations is suggested.

Document History

DA PAM 27-9
February 29, 2020
Military Judges’ Benchbook
PURPOSE AND SCOPE. a. Obligations, duties, and essential characteristics of military judges. Although the primary thrust of this Benchbook is to assist military judges in the preparation of trial...
September 10, 2014
Military Judges’ Benchbook
PURPOSE AND SCOPE. a. Obligations, duties, and essential characteristics of military judges. Although the primary thrust of this Benchbook is to assist military judges in the preparation of trial...
January 1, 2010
Military Judges’ Benchbook
PURPOSE AND SCOPE Obligations, duties, and essential characteristics of military judges. Although the primary thrust of this Benchbook is to assist military judges in the preparation of trial...
September 15, 2002
MILITARY JUDGES' BENCHBOOK
Purpose. a. Obligations, duties, and essential characteristics of military judges. Although the primary thrust of this benchbook is to assist military judges in preparation of trial instructions,...
April 1, 2001
MILITARY JUDGES' BENCHBOOK
Purpose. a. Obligations, duties, and essential characteristics of military judges. Although the primary thrust of this benchbook is to assist military judges in preparation of trial instructions,...
January 30, 1998
MILITARY JUDGES' BENCHBOOK
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