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    Court-Martial Convictions Would Need Unanimous Jury Verdicts Under Measure Added to Defense Bill

    Court-Martial Convictions Would Need Unanimous Jury Verdicts Under Measure Added to Defense Bill

    Court-martial convictions and sentences would require unanimous jury verdicts under an amendment added to the House's version of the annual defense policy bill last week.

    The amendment, which was approved by voice vote as part of a package of proposals considered noncontroversial, would change one of the last ways the justice system differs from civilian courts after a series of reforms Congress mandated in recent years. The court-martial legislation and the package received little attention amid heated partisan battles over the larger bill.

    The National Defense Authorization Act, or , still has several steps before becoming law, including reconciling with the Senate's version, which does not have a similar provision. But it marks the first time Congress has advanced legislation to make unanimity the threshold for guilty verdicts in courts-martial.

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    Right now, the Uniform Code of Military Justice requires at least three-fourths of a jury, officially called a panel, to agree to a conviction. The same is true for sentencing — except in death penalty cases, which require a unanimous verdict. Service members can also choose to have their case and sentence decided only by a judge rather than a jury.

    That makes military courts the last in the nation that don't require unanimous verdicts after…

    Continue Reading This Article At Military.com

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