Friday, July 28, 2017

Each to their own!

The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada [CMAC] was established by section 234(1) of the National Defence Act and declared at subsection 236 (1) to be a superior court of records The CMAC is a civilian court of appellate jurisdiction which hears appeals from courts-martial. A person subject to the Code of Service Discipline may appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada against a decision of the Court Martial Appeal Court.

At present, the Court is composed of a Chief Justice and a total of sixty (60) judges drawn from the Federal Court, the Superior Courts as well as the Courts of Appeal of the Provinces and the Federal Court of Appeal. One of the recently appointed judges has over 30 years of military service in the Regular Force. Prior to his appointment, he held numerous positions as a legal officer in the Office of the Judge Advocate General from there he was appointed directly to the Federal Court and the CMAC. The Chief Justice of the CMAC confirmed to Lawyer’s Daily on June 9, 2016 that this former commissioned officer now heads the Rules Committee of that Court.

As an aside, the US Uniform Code of Military Justice, 64 Stat. 109, 10 U.S.C. sub-chapter XKK, article 142 (b) (2)(B)(4) stipulates that: “A person may not be appointed as a judge of the court within seven years after retirement from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force” to the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. This is to ensure that the Court be, and be perceived, as ‘an independent civilian court unencumbered by ties to any of the military services”. Regrettably, in Canada no such restriction exists and, therefore, the situation may be perceived as being inconsistent with the role of the CMAC as a civilian tribunal.

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