Last night I posed a number of questions inspired by the Coast Guard Court’s latest opinion:
(1) What does “CGCMS” stand for in a Coast Guard Court case number?
(2) Why was Holbrook designated CGCMS 24329? When did the numbering system start?
(3) How many panels are there on the Coast Guard Court?
(4) Does every possible combination of Coast Guard Court judges get its own panel?
(5) Is there in an internal inconsistency in the Coast Guard Court’s discussion of the fraudulent enlistment issue on page 5 of the Holbrook slip opinion?
(6) Does a Coast Guard regulation restrict Article 58a’s automatic reduction provision from busting a Coastguardsman to E-1 if he is sentenced to a punitive discharge or confinement?
At this point I know little more than I did when I asked these questions last night. One Coast Guard alumnus suggested that looking at early Court-Martial Reports might shed some light on the questions. Pulling 1 and 2 C.M.R. off the shelf confirmed that CGCM stands for “Coast Guard Court-Martial.” In early Coast Guard Board of Review decisions, the “S” stood for “Summary Court-Martial.” See, e.g., United States v. Downs, 1 C.M.R. 553 (C.G.B.R. 1951). The Downs opinion indicates that Seaman Downs “was tried by a summary court-martial on May 24, 1951 under the disciplinary laws of the Coast Guard then in effect.” Id. at 553. Later in Volume 1 of Court-Martial Reports, the term “special court-martial” came into use in Coast Guard cases. See United States v. Lewis, 1 C.M.R. 571 (C.G.B.R. 1951) (tried on 23-24 July 1951, less than two months after the UCMJ’s 31 May 1951 effective date). But the very first decision of a Coast Guard Board of Review with a CGCMS number is the Downs case, which was tried on 24 May 1951 and was designated “CGCMS 19070.” So apparently before 24 May 1951, the Coast Guard had tried 19,069 summary courts-martial. I’m still unsure of when CGCMS 1 might have been tried.
I do have an answer for Question 6. Here is the relevant excerpt from the Coast Guard’s Military Justice Manual, COMDTINST M5810.1D (17 Aug 2000): “The administrative action of automatic reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade authorized under Article 58a, UCMJ, shall as a matter of policy not be effected in the Coast Guard.” Id. at 4.E.1.
Can anyone answer questions 2-5?