It should go without saying that a court-martial is a most serious matter, and the requirement for proof beyond a reasonable doubt plays a vital role in the legitimacy of the military justice system. A “society that values the good name and freedom of every individual should not condemn a man for commission of a crime when there is reasonable doubt about his guilt.” In the military justice system, where servicemembers accused at court-martial are denied some rights provided to other citizens, our unique factfinding authority is a vital safeguard designed to ensure that every conviction is supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This authority “provide[s] a source of structural integrity to ensure the protection of service members’ rights within a system of military discipline and justice where commanders themselves retain awesome and plenary responsibility.”
United States v. Rivera, No. 38649, 2016 CCA LEXIS 92 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 18, 2016)(unpub.).