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News | April 11, 2017

NMCCA Hears Oral Argument at GMU

By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs

The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) heard oral argument in U.S. v. Harris at George Mason University's (GMU) Antonin Scalia Law School on April 6.

The NMCCA is the intermediate appellate court for criminal convictions in the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps. If the trial results in a conviction, the case is reviewed by the convening authority (the person who referred the case for trial by court-martial). The convening authority has discretion to mitigate the findings and sentence. If the sentence, as approved by the convening authority, includes death, a punitive discharge (bad-conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge), dismissal, or confinement for one year or more, the case is automatically reviewed by the NMCCA (unless waived by the appellant) pursuant to Article 66, UCMJ. The NMCCA must review each case for legal sufficiency, factual sufficiency, and sentence appropriateness.

Presently, the NMCCA is comprised of two judicial panels. Each panel includes three appellate judges (with one judge appointed as the senior judge of that panel), two law clerks and a panel secretary. The clerk of court and docket clerk provide paralegal support to the entire Court. The NMCCA decides approximately 850 cases each year. The NMCCA traveled to GMU to hear oral argument before students as part of an outreach project to expand awareness of the military justice appellate process.

"Visiting law schools is part of a tradition of all the military courts," said Cmdr. Anne Marks, senior judge of NMCCA. "When former Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Chief Judge James Baker spoke at my judges course he talked about the importance of outreach. We are equating law students with the military justice system and with the Navy JAG Corps. It's teaching people that the military has a traditional system similar to the civilian system."

After the argument, Navy and Marine Corps officers were on hand to talk to the law students about becoming military lawyers.

"Viewing NMCCA oral arguments is a great opportunity for any budding young advocate, especially one interested in appellate work," said Janie Piemonte, GMU recruiting and program manager. "When I was approached about this I thought it was a great opportunity for students who really don't understand how things work in military courts or the JAG Corps."  
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