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Military Law Research

This guide provides an overview of research strategies and resources for military law courses at UNC School of Law, including military justice, the law of armed conflict, and national security law.

Structure of U.S. Military Court System

Military Justice Courts

Courts & Relevant Abbreviations

The Uniform Code of Military Justice ("UCMJ") sets forth the jurisdiction and procedure of the courts-martial and military appellate courts. See 10 U.S.C. §§ 801–946 (2018).  The courts-martial are the military's courts of original jurisdiction, with appellate review occurring in Military Service Courts of Criminal Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces are reviewable by the U.S. Supreme Court.  

The official names of the appellate courts and the case reporters that published their opinions changed over time, and thus you may see citations to what appear to be different courts or case reporters during your research process. The following abbreviations of the courts and their reporter series can help you recognize when you are dealing with an earlier version of a current military appellate court:

  • United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (C.A.A.F.), previously United States Court of Military Appeals (C.M.A.)
    • Reporters:
      • Decisions of the United States Court of Military Appeals (1951-75) - C.M.A.
      • West's Military Justice Reporter (1978-present) - M.J.
      • Court Martial Reports (1951-1975) - C.M.R.
  • Military Service Courts of Criminal Appeals, previously referred to as Courts of Military Review (A.C.M.R.) or Boards of Review (A.B.R.)
    • Specific Court Names and Abbreviations:
      • Army Court of Criminal Appeals (A. Ct. Crim. App.)
      • Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (A.F. Ct. Crim. App.)
      • Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals (C.G. Ct. Crim. App.)
      • Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (N-M. Ct. Crim. App.)
    • Reporters:
      • West's Military Justice Reporter (1975-present) - M.J.
      • Court Martial Reports (1951-1975) - C.M.R.

Abbreviations can be quickly viewed in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, Table T1.1. Copies of The Bluebook are available for borrowing at the law library's circulation desk.


Case Reporters

Legal researchers can access some volumes of the various military justice case reporters via court websites. Many of these collections are incomplete and do not provide a means for advanced keyword searching, which can make them difficult for legal researchers to use effectively. We have provided links to the relevant court websites below.

Court-Martial Reports are available via HeinOnline as PDF images of the original reporter series. For more advanced keyword searching, be sure to use Westlaw Edge's Military Court Cases collection, which contains cases from both the Court Martial Reporter and the Military Justice Reporter (altogether, 1951-present). As with all cases available in Westlaw Edge, you will also have access to KeyCite and other valuable secondary source recommendations.

(Note: Westlaw Edge is available to UNC Law students and faculty.)

The following is a list of the military courts and their websites:

Another place to quickly access relevant military and government websites is CAAFlog, a privately-maintained blog that provides updates and commentary on recent developments in military justice law. The sidebar on this blog provides direct links to much of the publicly-available military justice law material. You can view that website at this link.