Court Martial Procedures Guide for participants and members of the public

Issued on Authority of the Chief Military Judge
Dated July 31, 2014

The OPI for this publication is the Chief Military Judge.
Questions or recommendations concerning the content of this publication should be forwarded or faxed to The Court Martial Administrator at:

Office of the Chief Military Judge
National Defence Headquarters
Ottawa ON K1A 0K2

Phone: (819) 994-7869
Fax: (819) 997-6321

Table of contents

Background

1. Courts martial have a long tradition in the Canadian Forces. They are the highest form of service tribunal at the trial level and are an important aspect of the military justice system. A military judge presides at all courts martial and passes sentence. Under the direction of the military judge, courts martial are conducted not only in a dignified and military manner but also in an orderly fashion and in a manner befitting a court of justice.

2. General Courts Martial (GCMs) are composed of panels of officers and non-commissioned members who make findings of guilty or not guilty analogous to a jury at a civilian criminal trial. The military judge alone makes such findings at Standing Courts Martial (SCMs).

Dress

3. Orders of dress for participating military members, listed at para 8, are as prescribed by the Chief Military Judge. For military participants, Service Dress Nº 3 (tunic with ribbons) will be worn unless otherwise specified by the military judge presiding at the court martial. Headdress is worn by participating military members until after the pleas have been entered but may be removed earlier at the discretion of the military judge. Headdress is also worn for the pronouncement of findings and sentence. At other times during the proceedings, headdress is not worn except for military witnesses who are called to testify.

4. Civilian counsel. Civilian counsels are to be gowned.

5. Members of the Public. The order of dress for military members, attending but not participating in the court martial, is normally the authorized dress of the day. Persons in civilian clothes are to be neatly and properly dressed. Members of the public do not wear headdress within the courtroom.

Courtroom protocol

6. Subject to subsection (1) and (2) of the National Defence Act section 180, courts martial shall be public, and to the extent that accommodation permits, the public shall be admitted to the trial.

7. Courts martial normally convene at 0930 hours and sit thereafter at the direction of the military judge.

8. Court martial participants are referred to as follows:  

    Participant       Designation 
    military judge     Your Honour 
    panel members      by rank and name  
    prosecutor      Mr. or madam, or by rank and name  
    defence counsel       Mr. or madam, or by rank and name  
    accused      by rank (if applicable) and name or by Mr., Mrs. or Ms and name  
    court clerk-reporter      the court clerk-reporter or by rank and name  
    officer of the court       the officer of the court or by rank and name  
    escort       the escort or by rank and name 
    interpreter     the interpreter or by rank and name

 

9. No video or audio recording equipment may be used in the courtroom while the court is in session without the express permission of the presiding judge. All telecommunication equipment such as cellular phones, smart phones, blackberry, pagers, etc, shall be turned off.

10. Everyone rises whenever the military judge or members of the court martial panel enter the courtroom, and the military members wearing headdress salute the court.

11. When the court martial adjourns or closes, everyone in the courtroom rises and remains in place until the military judge and/or members of the court martial panel have departed from the courtroom. Military participants replace their headdress and salute as the military judge and/or members of the panel retire.

12. During the taking of the oath by the military judge, and the swearing of the court clerk-reporter and members of the court martial panel or interpreter, all persons in the courtroom rise and remove headdress. Court martial participants and the public remain seated when witnesses are sworn.

13. When the trial commences or when the court reopens after retiring for finding(s) or sentence, all court martial participants and members of the public shall rise.

14. When military witnesses are called before the court, they walk up to the witness stand, salute, remove their headdress and, having been sworn or affirmed, replace headdress and sit down in the witness chair. Upon being ordered to withdraw, they rise, salute and leave the courtroom. Civilian witnesses advance to the witness stand and, having been sworn or affirmed, sit down in the witness chair.

15. Where the accused is found not guilty on all charges, the military judge terminates the proceedings.

16. When the accused is found guilty of any charge, the court enters the sentencing phase. The procedures are generally the same as at trial. If the accused is sentenced to incarceration, he or she departs the courtroom followed by the escort, unless the court has granted an application to release the offender pending appeal.

17. When the accused has been sentenced to a period of incarceration, the proceedings of the court shall be terminated, subject to an application for release pending appeal pursuant to QR&O 118.02. Such an application may be delivered at any time within 24 hours (QR&O 118.03) after sentence has been passed. Court martial participants, with the exception of panel members, shall therefore plan to remain available for a period of 24 hours following the termination of the proceedings.

Administration

18. The commanding officer of the unit in which the accused is present, and/or where the trial is being held, shall ensure that reasonable notice of the court martial is given to the local community using such means as Base Routine Orders, and that that information is made available to the media.

19. The commanding officer (CO) is responsible for the provision of adequate accommodation, administration and personnel in order to ensure that the court martial is conducted in a dignified military manner IAW QR&O 111.12.

20. The prosecutor and defence counsel are responsible for arranging the attendance of their witnesses.

21. If a person other than an officer, non-commissioned member or employee of the Department is summoned to give evidence, fees and travel expenses are payable. Authority to pay fees and allowances is found in QR&O 111.10, and further information may be obtained from the prosecution or defence counsel who arranged for the witness to attend.

Officer of the Court and Court Senior Non-Commissioned Member

22. The officer of the court should not normally be below the rank of captain and shall, once appointed by the CO, familiarize himself or herself with QR&O chapters 111 and 112.

23. The officer of the court is appointed by the CO of the unit where the court martial is to be held. Under the guidance and instructions provided by the court clerk-reporter, and assisted by the court senior NCM and court orderlies, he or she is responsible to ensure that:

a. administrative and domestic arrangements for the efficient functioning of the proceedings are effected, and any requests for administrative services by the military judge, members of the court martial panel, prosecutor, defence counsel or the court clerk-reporter are satisfied in a timely manner;

b. a suitable courtroom is provided and set up with sufficient and appropriate tables and chairs, by the afternoon of the day before the court martial commences. In non-permanent courtrooms, white (or another suitable colour) tablecloths should be placed on the judge's bench, prosecution, defence and the court clerk-reporter's table;

c. the Canadian flag and the Canadian Forces Ensign are placed in accordance with the configuration at para 32;

d. separate from the courtroom, but closely located, suitable offices and/or waiting rooms are available for:

(1) the military judge;

(2) the members of the court martial panel in the case of a GCM;

(3) the prosecutor;

(4) defence counsel;

(5) prosecution witnesses who have not been examined;

(6) defence witnesses who have not been examined;

(7) if possible, prosecution witnesses who have been examined, but not released by the court; and

(8) if possible, defence witnesses who have been examined, but not released by the court

e. private telephone lines with commercial long-distance capability and Internet and Intranet hook-ups are available for the use of the military judge, prosecution and counsel for the accused;

f. a stand-alone computer printer is set up in the office of the Military Judge.

g. jugs of ice water, glasses, pens, sharpened pencils, writing pads and one package of computer printing paper are provided;

h. the following reference publications are readily available for the duration of the court (electronic copies are acceptable):

(1) an up-to-date copy of Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces in the judge's chambers;

(2) a current copy of the Concise Oxford Dictionary or Le Petit Robert in the judge's chambers;

(3) a copy of the Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) in the judge’s chambers; and

(4) at least two Bibles for use in administering oaths.

i. the court has ready access to a photocopier and facsimile machine for the duration of the trial;

j. arrangements for refreshments for the court martial participants are made if necessary;

k. witnesses remain in the designated witness rooms at all times;

l. the military judge, members and alternate members of the court martial panel are informed of any necessary administrative matters;

m. the court NCM and court orderlies are instructed as to their duties by the court clerk-reporter;

n. civilians appearing as defence counsel at courts martial must, at their request, be provided with, or have ready access to, up-to-date copies of QR&O and other relevant CF and DND publications for their use prior to and during the trial.

o. parking for the judge, and a parking pass if required, is provided;

p. the public is permitted to enter the courtroom and is seated prior to the opening or reassembly of the court, and that the prosecution, the defence and the court clerk-reporter have taken their places prior to the entry of the military judge or panel members; and

q. that several copies of the courtroom protocol portion of this guide are available at the courtroom.

24. At a suitable time before the trial, the court clerk-reporter attends at the courtroom to set up the court reporting equipment for the court martial. The court clerk-reporter meets with the officer of the court and all court staff at that time to provide a briefing and to discuss any possible outstanding administrative matters. The court clerk-reporter reviews with the officer of the court the procedures to be followed when the court martial opens, adjourns and closes.

25. Guidance on other matters relating to the duties of all court staff may be readily obtained from the court clerk-reporter identified in the administrative instruction forwarded by the CMA.

26. At the commencement of the trial, the officer of the court will order all present to rise with the words "All rise, the court martial presided by His or Her Honour, Military Judge (rank and name of the presiding judge)". At reassembly, reopening, adjournment, or closing of the court, the officer of the court will order all present to rise with the words "All Rise". Those wearing headdress will salute, holding the salute until the military judge has either entered the courtroom and instructed all to be seated, or entirely left the courtroom.

27. Any media inquiries received by the officer of the court are to be referred to the military judge through the court clerk-reporter and the appropriate DND Public Affairs officer.

Duties of the escort

28. The duties of the escort are symbolic in nature. The escort ensures that the accused is present at all times and escorts the accused out of the courtroom if the accused is sentenced to incarceration.

Duties of the court orderlies

29.  The court orderlies should be familiar with the location of and have access to (including during silent hours) a photocopier, a fax machine, and the assigned rooms for the court martial participants and witnesses.

30. Before the trial begins, reassembles or reopens, and at the beginning of each day ensure that:

a. water jugs are freshly filled and sufficient glasses are available at every table, including the witness stand. A clean glass should be available for each witness on the stand;

b. paper, pens and sharpened pencils are placed on each court members table;

c. windows are closed, and noisy equipment such as air conditioners, furnace fans, exhaust fans, etc. are turned off; and

d. during breaks windows and/or fans are turned on for ventilation.

31. When the court is in session the orderlies should ensure that:

a. witnesses remain in the room to which they are assigned;

b. witnesses who have already testified before the court remain separate from the other witnesses who have yet to testify;

c. witnesses keep the noise level to a minimum; and

d. the door to the courtroom is kept closed for the control of noise level.

32. After the termination of court for the day, the related accommodation shall be secured until the reopening of the court. The courtroom, coffee area and witness rooms are to be readied for the next reopening.

Courtroom configurations

33. The configuration for a Standing Court Martial should be as follows:

Standing Court Martial configurations:

  • Canadian Flag to the left behind the Military Judge
  • CF Ensign to the right behind the Military Judge
  • Military Judge’s bench centered in the room
  • Witness table facing the centre of the room, in front and to the left of the Military Judge’s bench
  • Court Clerk Reporter table in front and to the right of the Military Judge’s bench
  • Accused/Defence counsel table on the left
  • Prosecutor table on the right
  • Public behind counsel tables

34. The configuration for a General Court Martial should be as follows: 

General Court Martial configurations:

  • Canadian Flag to the left behind the Military Judge
  • CF Ensign to the right behind the Military Judge
  • Military Judge’s bench centered in the room
  • Witness table facing the centre of the room in front and to the left of the Military Judge’s bench
  • Court Clerk Reporter table in front and to the right of the Military Judge’s bench
  • Table for panel members on the right, facing the centre of the room
  • Accused/Defence counsel table on the left
  • Prosecutor table on the right
  • Public behind counsel tables
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