How the Trials Will Work

The biggest test of a special judicial system

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The trials of the 9/11 defendants will be the first to move through the special military commission system since it was created by Congress in 2006. Here's what's expected to happen next:

Referral. Judge Susan Crawford, the head of the military commission, will review the charges and decide whether to refer them for trial and whether the defendants should be subject to the death penalty.

Arraignment. Within 30 days of a referral, defendants must be arraigned. The government will pay for military lawyers for them. If the defendants want civilian lawyers, they will have to pay for them themselves or find a lawyer to serve free.

Trial. A trial may begin after 120 days. If the cases are death-penalty eligible, a jury of 12 officers must come to a unanimous verdict to convict. If the death penalty is not an issue, a jury of five must have a two-thirds majority.

Appeal. Any verdict can be appealed, first to the Court of Military Commissions Review, then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and ultimately to the Supreme Court.