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For additional meanings of "Court Martial", please see Court Martial.

A court martial (pl. "courts martial") referred to a judicial proceeding within a military or quasi-military organization, or the officer(s) who sat as a court to conduct the proceeding.

Offenses tried before a court martial ranged from insubordination to culpable negligence to violations of Starfleet General Orders. Refusing to abide by the Endangered Species Act was also a court martial offense. (DIS: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad") Striking a fellow officer was a court martial offense. (TOS: "This Side of Paradise"; VOY: "Parallax") A member of the service who stood accused was presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the service member was entitled to counsel at the preliminary hearing as well as the general court martial. That right could be waived, or the accused could elect to retain counsel. If this initial inquiry determined that a general court martial should be convened, the prosecution was conducted by a Starfleet Judge Advocate General officer.

No fewer than three officers of command or flag rank comprised the court. The senior officer of the court martial acted as the President of the Court. This officer controlled the mode and order of presentation of evidence, as well as making evidentiary rulings. Proof was presented through oral testimony and exhibits, including record tapes. The accused had the right to face his accusers, cross-examine witnesses, as well as to testify.

After finding of guilt was entered, or if the accused had pleaded guilty, the defendant was allowed to introduce evidence that either mitigated or explained guilt. (DIS: "Battle at the Binary Stars", TOS: "Court Martial", "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II")

Alternatively, Starfleet could convene a board of inquiry to engage in fact-finding. (TNG: "Allegiance", "Suspicions", "The Pegasus")

In the 23rd century, some Starfleet starships carried a court reporter for the purpose of recording statements, presumably for later use at an official inquiry or court martial. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Despite being a secretive black ops organization, even Section 31 had courts martial. (DIS: "Saints of Imperfection")

In the revised final draft script of TOS: "Court Martial", the established procedures governing courts martial were referred to as including "Regulations 7, Subsection D", which did not permit the defense to call a witness to testify prior to the prosecution resting its case first.

General court martial[]

Starbase 11 courtroom

Kirk facing the general court

A general court martial was the highest form of court martial proceedings an individual might face. (TOS: "Court Martial", "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II", "Turnabout Intruder"; TNG: "The Pegasus"; DS9: "The Die is Cast"; VOY: "Year of Hell")

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Notable defendants[]

Michael Burnham[]

In 2256, Commander Michael Burnham faced a court martial following the Battle of the Binary Stars as Burnham had disobeyed the orders of Captain Philippa Georgiou while serving as first officer aboard the USS Shenzhou. Burnham's actions subsequently resulted in the aforementioned battle, the death of Captain Georgiou, the abandonment of the Shenzhou and the outbreak of the Federation-Klingon War, for which she was stripped of rank and sentenced to life in prison. (DIS: "Battle at the Binary Stars")

Six months into her sentence, at the request of Captain Gabriel Lorca, Burnham was posted to the USS Discovery as a science specialist with no official rank in order to assist in the successful activation of the Discovery's experimental spore drive propulsion system. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings")

At the end of the war, Sarek informed her that she was pardoned for her crimes by the Federation President, and restored to her former rank of commander. (DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?")

Una Chin-Riley[]

In 2259, Lieutenant Commander Una Chin-Riley was court martialed after it was discovered that she was actually an Illyrian who were forbidden from serving in Starfleet due to the law against genetic engineering. During the trial, it was revealed that Chin-Riley had turned herself in rather than someone else exposing her. Her lawyer successfully argued that Chin-Riley had effectively sought asylum in Starfleet from persecution for her biology and that Captain Christopher Pike had essentially granted it to her when he chose to allow Chin-Riley to remain in Starfleet after she revealed her status to him. Chin-Riley was acquitted, formally granted asylum, and allowed to return to duty. (SNW: "Ad Astra per Aspera")

James T. Kirk and Spock[]

In 2267, Commodore Stone served as President of the Court in the court martial of Captain James T. Kirk, on Starbase 11, over the alleged death of his records officer, Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Finney. This marked the first time a Starfleet starship captain stood trial in a court martial. Kirk was cleared of all charges when it was revealed that Finney had actually faked his own death. (TOS: "Court Martial")

Also in 2267, Lieutenant Commander Spock requested and received an on-board court martial for his actions related to hijacking the USS Enterprise and violating General Order 7. The court consisted of an illusion of Commodore José Mendez, Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, and Spock's commanding officer, Captain Kirk. Although Mendez was never actually present, he did receive the images transmitted by the Talosians, and he ordered that General Order 7 be suspended on that occasion. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II")

In 2269, Janice Lester, while inhabiting the body of Captain Kirk, charged Commander Spock and "Janice Lester" (who was actually Kirk), with mutiny and convened a summary court martial. The proceedings were bizarre and none of the usual procedures intended to protect the accused's rights to due process were in evidence. In fact, the other members of the trial board – Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott and Doctor Leonard McCoy – were similarly charged during the court martial and found guilty of mutiny along with Spock and Kirk. Lester then ordered their immediate execution. Ultimately, it was revealed that Lester had transposed her consciousness with Kirk and the orders of the sham court martial were never enforced. (TOS: "Turnabout Intruder")

In 2286, then-Admiral James T. Kirk and his subordinates expected to face a court martial after stealing the starship Enterprise in order to "rescue" Captain Spock. However, after the officers engaged in a successful effort to save Earth from an alien probe, the Federation Council instead tried the accused. The Council summarily dismissed all charges but one; Kirk alone stood accused of disobeying a direct order of a superior officer. His guilty plea was accepted and for this, Kirk was reduced in rank to captain, assigned to command the newly commissioned USS Enterprise-A. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Jean-Luc Picard[]

In many cases, the loss of a starship automatically triggered a court martial of the ship's commanding officer. In 2355, the USS Stargazer was lost in the Maxia Zeta star system. During his court martial, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was prosecuted by Phillipa Louvois. Picard was cleared of all charges. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")

The term "court martial", applied in this manner, might not necessarily refer to a criminal proceeding, but rather an official military hearing designed to record the circumstances of a ship's loss, especially if the ship in question is left adrift, destroyed with no proof of its destruction (in which case it can fall into enemy hands), or destroyed in a questionable manner. Indeed, the TNG episodes "The Pegasus" and "The First Duty" portray similar inquiries taking place after the loss of the USS Pegasus in 2358 and the loss of the ships of Nova Squadron in 2368 respectively, although neither was specifically referred to as a "court martial". Nevertheless, as both episodes show, such an inquiry can be quite stressful; the examining officers can make findings about a witness' credibility or fault, and impose discipline.

Twenty years later, having been captured by the Son'a while helping the Ba'ku prevent a forced relocation so the Son'a could harvest metaphasic radiation in their planet's rings, Picard was told by Admiral Dougherty that, should he order the Ba'ku to surrender, the admiral would make sure he wouldn't be court-martialed – to which the captain responded that, if it took a court martial to expose the injustice occurring on Ba'ku to the people of the Federation, he looked forward to such a hearing. Seconds later, however, a furious Ru'afo stormed in, thundering that the USS Enterprise had destroyed one Son'a warship and severely damaged another – actions Picard knew Commander Riker would only have taken if the Son'a had attacked first. Since Picard was aware that Ru'afo would never have ordered such an attack without approval from Dougherty, he asked the admiral who would be facing a court martial now – though Dougherty was murdered by Ru'afo before any action could take place. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Ro Laren[]

Sometime in the mid-2360s, Ensign Ro Laren of the USS Wellington was court-martialed after disobeying direct orders on an away mission to Garon II. Her disobedience was alleged to have led to the deaths of eight of her crewmates. Ro refused to speak in her defense, and the court found her guilty. She was imprisoned in a stockade on Jaros II until her release in 2368. (TNG: "Ensign Ro")

In 2370, Picard threatened Ro with a court martial if she failed to follow her orders to lure Maquis members into a trap, but was ultimately unable to take any action following her defection to the Maquis. Prior to this, Ro related her story of having been court martialed and sent to Jaros II in order to get in with the Maquis. (TNG: "Preemptive Strike")

At some point after 2370, Ro, having deserted Starfleet and joined the Maquis, turned herself in and was court-martialed a second time. After some time in prison, she was ultimately recruited by Starfleet Intelligence, with her rank restored. By 2401, she'd risen to the rank of Commander. (PIC: "Imposters")

Michael Eddington[]

When the Maquis leader Michael Eddington defected to the Maquis in 2372, Captain Benjamin Sisko vowed to track him down and see him court-martialed. After his capture by Sisko and the crew of the USS Defiant the following year, Eddington was indeed court-martialed, convicted, and later imprisoned for treason against the Federation. (DS9: "For the Cause", "For the Uniform", "Blaze of Glory")

Captain Sanders of the USS Malinche – which had been attacked by Eddington's forces – asked Sisko to save him a seat at Eddington's court martial. (DS9: "For the Uniform")

Raffaela Musiker[]

In 2385, Raffaela Musiker was charged with thirteen court martial offences, among them were commandeering a ship, child endangerment, hacking the Starfleet Intelligence databases of Romulan contacts, appearing at work intoxicated, and stalking Admiral Kathryn Janeway. Starfleet concluded her actions to be indicative of a nervous breakdown, and ordered her to compulsory drug rehabilitation and psychotherapy on Betazed. After one year without improvement, Musiker requested a dishonorable discharge and returned to Earth. (PIC: "The End is the Beginning", "The Next Generation")


In 2258 of the alternate reality, Spock ordered Montgomery Scott to explain how he had beamed onto the USS Enterprise while it was at warp, threatening him with court martial should he refuse to do so. He was about to comply when James T. Kirk ordered him not to. Spock tried to override Kirk's command, but Scott sheepishly said he'd rather not take sides. (Star Trek)

Failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act was grounds for a court martial in the Federation. This was pointed out to Gabriel Lorca during a time loop in 2256. (DIS: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")

In 2367, Picard threatened Data with a court martial, and probable dismantlement, in order to find out what had happened to the crew of the USS Enterprise during a missing day they'd experienced. (TNG: "Clues")

An ensign who injured himself deliberately to avoid having to fight the Klingons on Ajilon Prime expected that he himself would be court-martialed. (DS9: "Nor the Battle to the Strong")

Shortly after B'Elanna Torres assaulted Joe Carey in the USS Voyager's engineering in early 2371, Tuvok mentioned to Chakotay that Torres had performed a court-martialable offense. (VOY: "Parallax")

In 2368, Picard speculated that Vice Admiral Kennelly would at the very least face a hearing for involvement in a conspiracy with the Cardassians to eliminate their Bajoran enemies and could very possibly face a court martial. (TNG: "Ensign Ro")

Later that year, Tuvok said he expected to be court-martialled, upon returning to Federation space, for his part in procuring a Sikarian spatial trajector. (VOY: "Prime Factors")

In 2370, Picard, posing as a smuggler named Galen described Commander William T. Riker as a Starfleet officer with a history of insubordination, stating that had not he and his fellow smugglers captured him that he probably would have ended up before a court martial. Riker responded that he had gotten out of them before. (TNG: "Gambit, Part I") Later, after affairs were resolved, Lieutenant Commander Data told Riker that if they were adhering to Starfleet regulations, he was facing twelve counts of court martial offenses. (TNG: "Gambit, Part II")

In an alternate 2374, Captain Janeway's refusal to obey The Doctor's order for her to be relieved of command would have been met with a court martial. However, Janeway pointed out that, compared to the damage and hardship that Voyager had endured over the course of the year, "a court martial would be a small price to pay" and claimed she'd be "happy to face the music" if they ever made it back to Federation space. (VOY: "Year of Hell, Part II")

In 2380, Ensign Brad Boimler learned at the end of the holo-novel program Crisis Point: The Rise of Vindicta that fellow ensign, Beckett Mariner, was the daughter of Captain Carol Freeman and the latter threatened anyone with a court martial should they learn about it. (LD: "Crisis Point")

In 2381 Admiral Vassery threatened to court martial Freeman for violating a direct order not to get involved with Nova Fleet due to the vast number of races that were a part of it that could cause a diplomatic incident. However, because the incident allowed Starfleet to start dialogues with the Orions, he decided to let it go. (LD: "Old Friends, New Planets")

Humorous references[]

In 2154, Commander Charles Tucker III joked that he would save Lieutenant Reed a seat at his court martial after Reed expressed particular concerns. Reed's doubts were about how Admiral Gardner would react to Tucker having informed the Andorians, as Tucker planned to do, that the Vulcan High Command was planning to invade Andoria. (ENT: "Kir'Shara")

In 2155 of the mirror universe, when Commander Jonathan Archer was caught following an attempted mutiny on the ISS Enterprise, he asked Captain Maximilian Forrest, "You going to shoot me now or wait for court martial?" (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

This suggests that courts martial were an established practice in the mirror universe as well.

In 2369, Major Kira Nerys refused the order of Commander Benjamin Sisko to leave him and Jadzia Dax in a cavern and take the way home. After Sisko repeated that this was an order, Kira simply answered, "Court martial me." Sisko responded that he couldn't, as she wasn't in Starfleet. (DS9: "Move Along Home")

In 2371, Commander Sisko told Miles O'Brien that it seemed like Jake Sisko was worried the commander was going to court martial Mardah. (DS9: "The Abandoned")

After Benjamin Sisko returned from rescuing Odo and Elim Garak from the Gamma Quadrant, Admiral Toddman sternly told him, "If you pull a stunt like that again, I'll court martial you… or promote you. Either way, you'll be in a lot of trouble." Prior to this, Sisko had warned anyone joining him on the mission that they faced the possibility of a general court martial. (DS9: "The Die is Cast")

In 2375, Janeway commented that there were grounds to court-martial Chakotay after he deliberately left his colleagues in the holodeck, watching an uninteresting presentation by The Doctor, when he'd been given orders to interrupt by initiating yellow alert at 2100 hours. (VOY: "Nothing Human")

In 2375, after Worf, undergoing jak'tahla due to the metaphasic radiation from the Ba'ku planet below (which the Enterprise crew was not yet aware of), overslept into his duty shift at tactical, Picard paged Worf to wake him up and mentioned, during their discussion, that they would "skip the court martial this time." (Star Trek: Insurrection)

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