Fort Campbell – The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will convene Nov. 4 at Fort Campbell to hear appellate arguments in the case of United States v. Cowgill at 3 p.m. in the 101st Division Headquarters Building. The hearing is open to the public.
The case involves an Air Force staff sergeant who is appealing his conviction for using marijuana and cocaine and possessing marijuana. At the conclusion of his court-martial, Staff Sgt. James Cowgill was sentenced to two months confinement, a reduction in pay grade to E-1 and a bad conduct discharge.
The issue before the court is whether the military judge improperly denied Cowgill’s motion to suppress all evidence seized from his house.
The court’s Fort Campbell visit is part of an Outreach Program. Although most of the court’s hearings are held in Washington, D.C., the court also travels on occasion and hears appeals at military installations, law schools and other public facilities around the country.
The goal of the Outreach Project is to educate the public on the legal process in the military, while giving Americans a chance to see and experience high-level appellate proceedings on criminal cases involving such topics as constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, criminal procedure, ethics, administrative law and national security law.
Courts-martial, the judicial proceedings conducted by the armed forces for service members accused of crimes, have been used in the U.S. since they were first authorized by the Continental Congress in 1775. However, until the Uniform Code of Military Justice was enacted in 1950, the appellate processes for service members convicted by courts-martial were very limited compared to the civilian appellate process. This changed in 1950 when appellate courts were first established by Articles 66 and 67 of the UCMJ. The UCMJ brought consistency and unity to the different services’ military justice systems, as well greatly expanded the legal rights of Soldiers.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces passes judgment on appeals over service members subject to the UCMJ. The first step in the appellate process is the individual service’s Court of Criminal Appeals.