Contact: Elizabeth Coplan
University of Washington School of Law



U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to hear case at UW School of Law concerning military jurisdiction over civilians


SEATTLE – The highest court in the military justice system, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, will hear oral argument as part of the Court’s “Project Outreach” on April 5th at the University of Washington School of Law in a case about the lawfulness of trying a civilian in a court-martial. The decision of the court could be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Court will meet at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in Room 133 of William H. Gates Hall at the Law School on the UW campus in Seattle. The hearing is public, though registration has already filled. However, a few spaces have been reserved for the press. Additional seating will be available in Room 138 for to observe the oral arguments of the U.S. vs. Ali case.

The appeal before the five civilian judges of the court is that of Alaa Mohammad Ali, a former U.S. Army translator in Iraq charged with assaulting a fellow translator. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was convicted under a 2006 amendment to the Uniform Code of Military Code of Justice. The amendment allowed civilians to be prosecuted by U.S. courts-martial in Iraq, Afghanistan and other "contingency operations" without an actual declaration of war. Prior to this amendment, civilians could only be tried by court-martial when the United States was formally at war.

Court rules prohibit the public or press recording and photographing the oral argument itself, but reporters are free to take photos during a question-and-answer session following the hearing.

Professor Eric Schnapper will be available after the hearing for interviews as will Jeff Barnum, a third-year law student and amicus curiae (friend of the court) who has been granted oral argument time by the court.

For more information about this event, contact the Elizabeth Coplan, UW School of Law Media Relations and Marketing, at 206-369-9412; Tiffany Sevareid at 206-685-9002; or Bill DeCicco, the Clerk of the Court, at


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