10 U.S. Code § 837 - Art. 37. Command influence

(a)
(1)
No court-martial convening authority, nor any other commanding officer, may censure, reprimand, or admonish the court or any member, military judge, or counsel thereof, with respect to the findings or sentence adjudged by the court, or with respect to any other exercise of its or his functions in the conduct of the proceeding.
(2)
No court-martial convening authority, nor any other commanding officer, may deter or attempt to deter a potential witness from participating in the investigatory process or testifying at a court-martial. The denial of a request to travel at government expense or refusal to make a witness available shall not by itself constitute unlawful command influence.
(3)
No person subject to this chapter may attempt to coerce or, by any unauthorized means, attempt to influence the action of a court-martial or any other military tribunal or any member thereof, in reaching the findings or sentence in any case, or the action of any convening, approving, or reviewing authority or preliminary hearing officer with respect to such acts taken pursuant to this chapter as prescribed by the President.
(4) Conduct that does not constitute a violation of paragraphs (1) through (3) may include, for example—
(A)
general instructional or informational courses in military justice if such courses are designed solely for the purpose of instructing persons on the substantive and procedural aspects of courts-martial;
(B)
statements regarding criminal activity or a particular criminal offense that do not advocate a particular disposition, or a particular court-martial finding or sentence, or do not relate to a particular accused; or
(C)
statements and instructions given in open court by the military judge or counsel.
(5)
(A) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) through (3), but subject to subparagraph (B)—
(i)
a superior convening authority or officer may generally discuss matters to consider regarding the disposition of alleged violations of this chapter with a subordinate convening authority or officer; and
(ii)
a subordinate convening authority or officer may seek advice from a superior convening authority or officer regarding the disposition of an alleged offense under this chapter.
(B)
No superior convening authority or officer may direct a subordinate convening authority or officer to make a particular disposition in a specific case or otherwise substitute the discretion of such authority or such officer for that of the subordinate convening authority or officer.
(b)
In the preparation of an effectiveness, fitness, or efficiency report, or any other report or document used in whole or in part for the purpose of determining whether a member of the armed forces is qualified to be advanced in grade, or in determining the assignment or transfer of a member of the armed forces or in determining whether a member of the armed forces should be retained on active duty, no person subject to this chapter may, in preparing any such report (1) consider or evaluate the performance of duty of any such member as a member of a court-martial, or (2) give a less favorable rating or evaluation of any member of the armed forces because of the zeal with which such member, as counsel, represented any person in a court-martial proceeding.
(c)
No finding or sentence of a court-martial may be held incorrect on the ground of a violation of this section unless the violation materially prejudices the substantial rights of the accused.
(d)
(1)
A superior convening authority or commanding officer may withhold the authority of a subordinate convening authority or officer to dispose of offenses in individual cases, types of cases, or generally.
(2)
Except as provided in paragraph (1) or as otherwise authorized by this chapter, a superior convening authority or commanding officer may not limit the discretion of a subordinate convening authority or officer to act with respect to a case for which the subordinate convening authority or officer has authority to dispose of the offenses.

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised section

Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)

837

50:612.

May 5, 1950, ch. 169, § 1 (Art. 37), 64 Stat. 120.

The word “may” is substituted for the word “shall”.

Amendments

2019—Pub. L. 116–92, § 532(a)(1), substituted “Command influence” for “Unlawfully influencing action of court” in section catchline.

Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 116–92, § 532(a)(2), amended subsec. (a) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (a) read as follows: “No authority convening a general, special, or summary court-martial, nor any other commanding officer, may censure, reprimand, or admonish the court or any member, military judge, or counsel thereof, with respect to the findings or sentence adjudged by the court, or with respect to any other exercise of its or his functions in the conduct of the proceeding. No person subject to this chapter may attempt to coerce or, by any unauthorized means, influence the action of a court-martial or any other military tribunal or any member thereof, in reaching the findings or sentence in any case, or the action of any convening, approving, or reviewing authority with respect to his judicial acts. The foregoing provisions of the subsection shall not apply with respect to (1) general instructional or informational courses in military justice if such courses are designed solely for the purpose of instructing members of a command in the substantive and procedural aspects of courts-martial, or (2) to statements and instructions given in open court by the military judge, president of a special court-martial, or counsel.”

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 116–92, § 532(a)(3), substituted “advanced in grade” for “advanced, in grade” and “person in a court-martial proceeding” for “accused before a court-martial”.

Subsecs. (c), (d). Pub. L. 116–92, § 532(a)(4), added subsecs. (c) and (d).

1968—Pub. L. 90–632 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), substituted “military judge” for “law officer”, inserted provisions specifically exempting instructional or general informational lectures on military justice and statements and instructions given in open court by the military judge, president of a special court-martial, or counsel from prohibitions of subsec. (a), and added subsec. (b).

Effective Date of 2019 Amendment

Pub. L. 116–92, div. A, title V, § 532(c), Dec. 20, 2019, 133 Stat. 1361, provided that:

“The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) [amending this section] shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 20, 2019] and shall apply with respect to violations of section 837 of title 10, United States Code (article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), committed on or after such date.”
Effective Date of 1968 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 90–632 effective first day of tenth month following October 1968, see section 4 of Pub. L. 90–632, set out as a note under section 801 of this title.