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Judge-Advocate-General

JUDGE-ADVOCATE-GENERAL, an officer appointed in England to assist the Crown with advice in matters relating to military law, and more particularly as to courts-martial. In the army the administration of justice as pertaining to discipline is carried out in accordance with the provisions of military law, and it is the function of the judge-advocate-general to ensure that these disciplinary powers are exercised in strict conformity with that law. Down to 1793 the judge-advocate-general acted as secretary and legal adviser to the board of general officers, but on the reconstitution of the office of commander-in-chief in that year he ceased to perform secretarial duties, but remained chief legal adviser. He retained his seat in parliament and in 1806 he was made a member of the government and a privy councillor. The office ceased to be political in 1892. on the recommendation of the select committee of 1888 on army estimates, and was conferred on Sir F. Jeune (afterwards Lord St Helier). There was no salary attached to the office when held by Lord St Helier, and the duties were for the most part performed by deputy. On his death in 1905, Thomas Milvain, K.C., was appointed, and the terms and conditions of the post were rearranged as follows: (i) A salary of 2000 a year; (2) the holder to devote his whole time to the duties of the post; (3) the retention of the post until the age of seventy, subject to continued efficiency but with claim to gratuity or pension on retirement. The holder was to be subordinate to the secretary of state for war, without direct access to the sovereign. The appointment is conferred by letters-patent, which define the exact functions attaching to the office, which practically are the reviewing of the proceedings of all field-general, general and district courts-martial held in the United Kingdom, and advising the sovereign as to the confirmation of the finding and sentence. The deputy judge-advocate is a salaried official in the department of the judge-advocate-general and acts under his letters-patent. A separate judge-advocate-general's department is maintained in India, where at one time deputy judge-advocates were attached to every important command. All general courtsmartial held in the United Kingdom are sent to the judgeadvocate-general, to be by him submitted to the sovereign for confirmation; and all district courts-martial, after having been confirmed and promulgated, are sent to his office for examination and custody. The judge-advocate-general and his deputy, being judges in the last resort of the validity of the proceedings of courts-martial, take no part in their conduct; but the deputy judge-advocates frame and revise charges and attend at courtsmartial, swear the court, advise both sides on law, look after the interests of the prisoner and record the proceedings. In the English navy there is an official whose functions are somewhat similar to those of the judge-advocate-general. He is called counsel and judge-advocate of the fleet.

In the United States there is also a judge-advocate-general's department. In addition to being a bureau of military justice, and keeping the records of courts-martial, courts of inquiry and military commissions, it has the custody of all papers relating to the title of lands under the control of the war department. The officers of the department, in addition to acting as prosecutors in all military trials, sometimes represent the government when cases affecting the army come up in civil courts.

See further MILITARY LAW, and consult C. M. Clode, Administration of Justice under Military and Martial Law (1872); Military Forces of the Crown (2 vols., 1869).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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