Tuesday, April 10, 2007

To paraphrase Lincoln, sometimes it is better to remain silent and be thought [guilty] than to speak and remove all [reasonable] doubt

As reported by today's Washington Post, a court-martial panel at the Washington Navy Yard convicted Midshipman Kenny Ray Morrison of indecently assaulting a female midshipman. The members found him not guilty of sexual offenses concerning another female midshipman. The Annapolis Capital's web site reports tonight that the members sentenced him to confinement for two years and a dismissal.

But here's what I find most interesting about the case. As this previous article from the Capital makes clear, Morrison took the stand but limited his testimony to one of the two alleged incidents. Interestingly enough, the members found him guilty of the offense about which he testified and not guilty of the offense about which he remained silent. This suggests that the members didn't treat his invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights as a de facto admission of guilt. It also suggests that perhaps his testimony wasn't very convincing.

2 comments:

Bill Cassara said...

I found that interesting as well. I think his defense counsel probably made the right call in putting him on the stand, despite the outcome, but it is an interesting way to do things. I know some MJ's who have refused to allow me to limit my client's testimony in this fashion.

CAAFlog said...

Such a military judge has probably introduced reversible error into the record. See Mil. R. Evid. 301(e): "If an accused is on trial for two or more offenses and on direct examination testifies concerning the issue of guilt or innocence as to only one or some of the offenses, the accused may not be cross-examined as to guilt or innocence with respect to the other offenses unless the cross-examination is relevant to an offense concerning which the accused has testified. This waiver is subject to Mil. R. Evid. 608(b)."