Signed into law by President Obama in December 2016, the Military Justice Act of 2016 took effect on January 1, 2019. It provides the most sweeping changes to the military justice system since the implementation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 1951. Some of the notable changes implemented by the Act include the:
1) Creation of a new special court-martial colloquially known as the “short-martial.” This new court-martial removes the accused’s option to elect a member panel (military version of a jury); instead mandating the judge alone option for both findings and sentencing. While the traditional special court-martial remains eligible to award up to a year of confinement and a bad conduct discharge, this new “short-martial” can only award confinement of up to six months and cannot adjudge a punitive discharge.