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October 2020


          The Criminal Law Department at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, U.S. Army (TJAGLCS) produces this Deskbook as a resource for Judge Advocates and Paralegals throughout the Department of Defense (DoD).  The Criminal Law Deskbook is intended to serve as a reference, practical guide, and training tool that covers the substantive and procedural aspects of military justice.  While designed to be a thorough resource and an excellent starting point for research, the Deskbook is not an all-encompassing academic treatise.  Readers are advised to review, analyze, and Shephardize references to case law and other primary sources, and form their own opinions about the interpretation of precedent or policy. The Deskbook does not reflect Army or DoD policy, and does not necessarily reflect the views of TJAGLCS or any DoD agency. 


          HISTORY OF THE DESKBOOKDeskbooks at TJAGLCS exist in each of the academic departments, and all of them began as an outline for Officer Basic Course and Graduate Course students. During the 1990s, the Criminal Law Deskbook took many forms–one version for the Basic Course, another version for the Graduate Course, etc.  A new deskbook would be generated and printed for each newly-arriving course. 

          In the mid-2000s, the various versions of the Criminal Law Deskbook were consolidated into two volumes of substantive and procedural criminal law.  A third volume was added to address advocacy, and a fourth volume was added in 2011 to address special topics like capital and complex litigation.  In 2013, the Criminal Law Department combined all of the volumes into a single deskbook.  In 2015, the Deskbook was updated and edited, resulting in a smaller document.  In 2017, the deskbook was reorganized to put chapters into chronological order more consistent with criminal procedure.  Additionally, the advocacy chapters were removed, edited, and included in the The Advocacy Trainer, and the policies and programs relating to SHARP, FAP, the SVC Program and victims' rights were consolidated into one chapter. 

          In 2019, the Deskbook underwent a significant update to reflect changes resulting from the Military Justice Act of 2016, most of which took effect on 1 January 2019.  Accordingly, the July 2018 version of the Criminal Law Deskbook was the most recent version to address pre-Military Justice Act law and procedure.  Practitioners must always consider the applicable effective date of Military Justice Act provisions when conducting research, as the date of the offense may dictate whether or not certain Military Justice Act amendments apply in a particular situation.

          In 2020, the Criminal Law Department migrated the Deskbook to an online Wiki format in order to make it easily accessible from any computer, tablet or smartphone. This online format also allows the Criminal Law Department to continually update the Deskbook to reflect recent changes and developments to the law, without waiting for a new annual edition to be published. To the extent possible, citations will be hyperlinked to direct readers to the relevant case law or primary source cited. 


          PROVIDING FEEDBACK. In order to keep the Deskbook as current and accurate as possible, we ask for your input.  Readers are encouraged to note any discrepancies (substantive or technical) or offer any suggestions to improve the Deskbook.  Please contact the Vice Chair of the Criminal Law Department; contact information is listed in the "Criminal Law Faculty" hyperlink in the Table of Contents. 

          Moving forward, the Criminal Law Department will continue to assess the usefulness and value of the Deskbook chapters with the following factors in mind: (1) existing criminal law publications already available to the field; (2) the role of TJAGLCS and the Criminal Law Department in the training and development of Judge Advocates and Paralegals throughout the Army and DoD; and (3) the mission of the Criminal Law Department to provide quality ABA instruction to our LL.M. students.

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