Parsing the Pentagon
The terminology of the Uniform Code of Military Justice is unknown to most Americans. Key terms and definitions:
COURT-MARTIAL. The military's version of a trial. There are three types--summary, special, and general. General is most serious.
CONVENING AUTHORITY. Exercises prosecutorial discretion, determines whether or not someone will be court-martialed, determines the type of court-martial, and selects the service members who will serve as jurors. Once the trial is over, the convening authority then decides whether to approve or disapprove the findings of the jury.
JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL. The lawyer for each service and the Coast Guard who administers their justice programs. Considered the most senior lawyers in the military. Except for the Coast Guard JAG, a civilian, are all generals or admirals.
JUDGE ADVOCATES. The military lawyers who serve on prosecution and defense teams and in other positions. They also serve as military judges, by appointment of their respective judge advocate generals.
This story appears in the December 16, 2002 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.