Partly Obs. A court authorized by the articles of war, for the trial of all offenders in the army or navy, for military offences. Article 64 directs that general courts martial may consist of any number of commissioned officers, from five to thirteen, inclusively; but they shall not consist of less than thirteen, where the number can be convened, without manifest injury to the service.
The decision of the commanding officer who appoints the court, as to the number that can be convened without injury to the service, is conclusive. Such a court has not jurisdiction over a citizen of the United States not employed in military service. It has merely a limited jurisdiction, and to render its jurisdiction valid, it must appear to have acted within such jurisdiction.
A court martial must have jurisdiction over the subject matter of inquiry and over the person, and a want of these will render its judgment null.