The U.S. Court of Military Appeals was created by Congress in 1951. At that time, Congress also enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which established a military judicial system. This system was designed to balance the need to maintain discipline in the armed forces and to give members of the military services who are accused of crimes rights paralleling those of accused persons in the civilian community.
In 1994, the name of the court was changed and it is now known as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
The court's jurisdiction is worldwide but encompasses only questions of law arising from trials by court-martial in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in cases where a death sentence is imposed, where a case is certified for review by the Judge Advocate General of the accused's service, or where the accused, who faces a severe sentence, petitions and shows good cause for further review. Such cases are subject to further review by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court may also review cases in which the court grants extraordinary relief. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review decisions of the military appellate courts in which the United States has taken an appeal from rulings by military judges during trials by court-martial.
The five judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forcesare civilians appointed for 15-year terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The chief judge serves for five years and is succeeded by the next senior judge on the court. The court is located in Washington, D.C.