Imperial Military Courts
Imperial Military Courts come with different names depending on the service convening the court: -
|Type of Imperial Military Court||Services Covered|
|Naval Court Martial||Imperial Navy|
Imperial Interstellar Scout Service
|Military Court Martial||Imperial Army|
Judges for the Court Martial will typically be supplied by Judge Advocate General’s Office of the service of the person being tried (if a matter internal to that service) or the service in whose custody the person being tried is held (for other matters).
n.b. Imperial Military Courts do not normally sit permanently, but are convened by a flag officer (general, admiral, or equivalent) on an ad-hoc basis when required.
n.b. Officers in a service may request the service to form a court martial to review their specific actions without formal indictment where the officer's honour has been brought into question as a result of an action (or inaction).
Imperial Military Courts can only judge on matters related to the Imperial Code of Military Justice (ICMJ), sometimes called Military Law, which is a subset of the Imperial Law. This includes the Imperial Rules of War
Military courts martial are separate from civilian courts. A court martial proceeding is a purely military affair, and is conducted according to the Imperial Code of Military Justice. Only serving members of the Imperial military may be tried in a court martial. This includes active members of the IISS, but not detached service Scouts.
Unlike civilian courts, Imperial Military Courts are always formed with at least tribunal of Judges. At least one Judge must be the flag officer convening the court, and all Judges must be serving officers. A Court will always have an odd number of Judges (to avoid ties). If the defendant is a Peer, the judges must all be of at least equal noble rank.
The investigators are members of the relevant service’s Judge Advocate General’s Office, and court-appointed defence lawyers (legates) are serving military officers trained in law. The accused may retain a civilian lawyer, but the court-appointed legate, must assist the civilian. A court martial may be convened to try any serious breach of military regulations.
Violations of the Imperial Rules of War are tried by the branch of the Imperial military that first discovers the crime. This is most often the Imperial Navy or IISS (which is considered “military” for this purpose), but the Imperial Marines and Imperial Army are sometimes involved. War crimes trials are normally handled at sector level or below; it is rare for any noble above the rank of Sector Duke to become involved.
The court for a war crime may differ from a more usual one in that several branches may cooperate to investigate and render judgment. The investigators gather evidence and present it as speedily as possible to the convening authority, who then decides who (if anyone) will be brought to trial for all relevant incidents. Officers are appointed to prosecute and defend the accused as noted above. In cases where several branches of the Imperial military are involved, the tribunal must include at least one officer from each branch. The procedures and rules of evidence follow military regulations, and are specified in the orders that convened the tribunal. Both the prosecution and defence may present evidence and call witnesses, either in person or by written deposition. All evidence is examined and weighed before rendering a verdict. In extremely important cases, there may be a separate tribunal convened to pass sentence, but in most cases the original court imposes a punishment according to the Imperial Rules of War.
Unusually, The tribunal’s decision may be appealed to the Archduke of the domain where the crime occurred. Peers convicted of violations of the Rules of War may appeal to the Emperor if the Archduke upholds their conviction. As a consequence, it is not possible to prosecute the Imperial Guard for War Crimes.
Punishments range from fine or imprisonment up to execution by firing squad.