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What is the Army JAG Corps?

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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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The United States Army JAG Corps is the legal branch of the United States Army. JAG is an acronym which stands for Judge Advocate General. The Army JAG Corps is a military law firm which handles all legal matters concerning the members of the US Army. It was founded by General George Washington in 1775 after he appointed William Tudor as the Judge Advocate General, which is the leading position of the JAG Corps. It is actually the oldest law firm in the United States.

The main purpose of lawyers in the Army JAG corps is to serve as legal advisors to the commanding officers to which they are assigned, and to serve in the court martial process as both prosecutors and defense attorneys. Court martial is a term for the criminal legal process through which all matters of military law are executed. Members of the military are not just subjected to military law, but also federal law, as well as the law of whatever state they are stationed or located in.

Military attorneys do have more specific areas of legal practice. Members of the Army JAG Corps also serve in areas of international law, government contracting issues, administrative law, environmental law, rules of engagement, and claims against the government. The JAG Corps also employs paralegal specialists who assist army attorneys in the particular area of military law in which the attorney specializes.

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The Army JAG Corps, as well as other branches, read from the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for its body of laws. The term "uniform" in its title comes from the fact that the laws are not in place for one branch of the armed services, such as the United States Army, but exists as the system of laws for all branches of the military. The UCMJ was ordered into effect by President Truman in 1950, and has sections encompassing all aspects of military law. The UCMJ has a section of general provisions, pre-trial procedures, and punitive articles discussing specific crimes, such as spying, murder, desertion, or rape, in the armed services.

The Army JAG Corps has strict requirements before admission into their ranks. An applicant must be in good physical shape, meeting the Army's physical fitness requirements. He or she must be of good moral standing, have graduated from an American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school, and be approved to the bar of a Federal Court or the highest court of any state in the United States or the District of Columbia. The lawyer must be able to pass security clearance and citizenship tests, as well as be able to serve 20 years of active duty before retirement at the age of 62.

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