martial law (mahr-sh<<schwa>>l).1. The law by which during wartime the army, instead of civil authority, governs the country because of a perceived need for military security or public safety. • The military assumes control purportedly until civil authority can be restored. 2. A body of firm, strictly enforced rules that are imposed because of a perception by the country’s rulers that civil government has failed, or might fail, to function. • Martial law is usu. imposed when the rulers foresee an invasion, insurrection, economic collapse, or other breakdown of the rulers’ desired social order. [Cases: War and National Emergency 31. C.J.S. War and National Defense §§ 47–48.]
“Martial law is the public law of necessity. Necessity calls it forth, necessity justifies its exercise, and necessity measures the extent and degree to which it may be employed. That necessity is no formal, artificial, legalistic concept but an actual and factual one: it is the necessity of taking action to safeguard the state against insurrection, riot, disorder, or public calamity. What constitutes necessity is a question of fact in each case.” Frederick B. Wiener, A Practical Manual of Martial Law 16 (1940).
“[M]artial law is nothing more and nothing less than an application of the common law doctrine that force, to whatever degree necessary, may be used to repress illegal force. Martial law is the public right of self-defense against a danger threatening the order or the existence of the state. Where the ordinary civil authorities — the police — are unable to resist or subdue a disturbance, additional force, military in nature, may be applied. The extent of military force used depends in each instance upon the extent of the disturbance.” Id. at 16–17.
absolute martial law.The carrying on of government functions entirely by military agencies, as a result of which the authority of civil agencies is superseded. [Cases: War and National
Emergency 31. C.J.S. War and National Defense §§ 47–48.]
qualified martial law.The carrying on of government functions partly by military agencies, as a result of which the authority of some civil agencies is superseded. [Cases: War and National Emergency 31. C.J.S. War and National Defense §§ 47–48.]
3. The law by which the army in wartime governs foreign territory that it occupies. 4. Loosely,
[Blacks Law 8th]