Monday, December 31, 2007
Two new CAAF judges were nominated and confirmed. The tenures of Chief Judge Gierke, with his impressive body of procedure-oriented jurisprudence, and Judge Crawford -- who had become an increasingly isolated but vehement voice in dissent -- ended. Chief Judge Effron moved to the middle seat and picked up the gavel. The Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion that provided a fresh interpretation of Article 36 of the UCMJ. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S.Ct. 2749 (2006). Congress changed the UCMJ to subject some civilian contractors to court-martial jurisdiction. And CAAF delivered a WWF-worthy smackdown in United States v. Moreno, 63 M.J. 129 (C.A.A.F. 2006).
But just as surely as a wild night with one too many mojitos is followed by a quiet morning gently massaging one's temples, 2006 was followed by 2007. And in 2007, nothing happened. Or, to paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan, well, hardly anything.
2007 is remarkable more for what didn't occur than what did. The SG didn't seek cert in Lane. Congress allowed the Equal Justice for Our Military Act to lapse into a coma and then unobtrusively die. NMCCA didn't release an opinion in Walker. Despite any predictions that Guert or I may have made to the contrary, United States v. Leonard, 64 M.J. 381 (C.A.A.F. 2007), resulted in neither the repeal of the UCMJ nor the melting of the polar ice caps. The Supremes denied cert in United States ex rel. New v. Gates, 127 S. Ct. 2096 (2007). And the Judge Advocates General didn't get their third star.
So what were the big military justice stories of 2007? Heck if I know. That's where you come in. Please post your nomination for military justice story of the year. If you are the first to post the winning entry, as selected by our anonymous panel of military justice geeks applying idiosyncratic criteria and answering to no one, you could become the proud owner of a CAAFlog t-shirt. Please post your entries NLT 1930 EST on New Year's Day, 1 January 2008.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
WHETHER THE AIR FORCE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS APPLIED THE CORRECT STANDARD OF REVIEW WHEN DETERMINING WHETHER THE MILITARY JUDGE ABUSED HIS DISCRETION WHEN HE DENIED THE DEFENSE MOTION FOR A SANITY BOARD.
WHETHER THE AIR FORCE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS ERRED BY FINDING THE MILITARY JUDGE ABUSED HIS DISCRETION WHEN HE DENIED APPELLANT'S REQUEST FOR A SANITY BOARD FINDING HE HAD NOT MET HIS BURDEN OF FACTUAL PERSUASION TO JUSTIFY AN INQUIRY PURSUANT TO R.C.M. 706.
United States v. Mackie, __ M.J. ___, No. 08-5005/AF (C.A.A.F. Dec. 26, 2007). The Air Force Court's opinion in the case is published at 65 M.J. 762 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2007). We previously discussed that opinion here.
This is the fifth case that the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force has certified to CAAF since July. In the preceding eight years, the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force had certified a total of three cases to CAAF. So far in 2007, there have been six cases certified to CAAF -- five (Webb, Miller, Melson, Perez, Mackie) by the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force and one (Gutierrez) by the Judge Advocate General of the Army.
In each year from 2003 through 2006, the Judge Advocate General of the Army won the certification derby. In 2002 the champ was, of all people, the Judge Advocate General of the Coast Guard, who was responsible for the only two certified issues during that calendar year. The Judge Advocate General of the Navy was the champ in 1999 and 2000 and tied with the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force in 2001. Laying out the service breakdown on a graph suggests hot and cold streaks in each service. It makes me wonder whether the hot streaks were caused by some particular individual pushing for certifications with a cold streak following when that individual PCSed or retired. If so, my guess is that the directors of the respective appellate government divisions are the key players in the certification process. It would be interesting to overlay a graph of the appellate government heads' tenure on the graph of the corresponding service's certification numbers.
Parkinson's Law states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. Will less time necessarily result in less work?
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
The accused, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Launching and Recovery Equipment) Second Class Daniel Ortizrodriguez (let's just call him the appellee) was initially accused of rape and civilian authorities conducted an investigation. The civilians elected not to pursue the case, and the Navy requested that appellee be detailed a defense counsel. Eventually, appellee was restricted to the limits of the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY, which was in the process of decommissioning. Appellee remained restricted through the decommissioning process, and after KENNEDY decommissioned, appellee was restricted to a barge. The military judge ruled that the conditions of appellee's restriction were tantamount to confinement. On appeal, the government did not contest this finding. Appellee spent a total of 101 days in restriction tantamount to confinement without being arraigned.
The delay NMCCA found troubling enough to warrant dismissal with prejudice included 27 days that elapsed between imposition of restriction and preferral, and 44 days for the investigating officer to complete the Article 32 investigation. Much of the delay associated with the Article 32 was attributable to the investigating officer keeping the investigation open in hopes of obtaining evidence the trial counsel had informed him was likely lost.
We'll see if the government lets this case lie harmlessly in unpublished oblivion or risks a published CAAF opinion. There's nothing especially groundbreaking here legally speaking, a straight forward, fact intensive application of the Barker v. Wingo factors.
Since the case hasn't hit the NMCCA web page yet, I'll zap a copy to No Man for posting on CAAFlog.com.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Is a "cover-up" lie told after the murder a statement in furtherance of a conspiracy to murder or part of a separate conspiracy to obstruct justice?
[N]ot infrequently the commission of a criminal offense is followed immediately by an active attempt to conceal it. Thus, a rule has arisen to the effect that the declarations of a co[-]conspirator are admissible against a co[-]conspirator not only when they are made during the perpetration of the offense, but also when expressed during the course of a subsequent attempt to conceal the crime and relating to it.
Id., slip op. at 26 (quoting United States v. Taylor, 6 C.M.A. 289, 293, 20 C.M.R. 5, 9 (!955) (second and third alterations in the original)).
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Question # 1: How many certificates of review have been filed in the 9 years minus 13 days in the study period? 42.
Question # 2: What is the service breakdown? Army = 13; Air Force = 7; Navy-Marine Corps = 16; Coast Guard = 6.
Question # 3: How often does a certified issue lead to reversal of the CCA's opinion? 54% 20/37 (5 certified issues remain pending) (This 54% figure is somewhat skewed because certified issues led to 5 carbon copy reversals of NMCCA opinions during the Campbell/Green changeover in urinalysis law and similar certified issues led to 2 combined reversals of ACCA in Alexander and Vandershaaf, 63 M.J. 269 (C.A.A.F. 2006).)
Question # 4: In how many of the 42 certified issue cases had the government prevailed at the CCA level? 2, both certified by the Judge Advocate General of the Navy. United States v. Rodriguez, 60 M.J. 87 (C.A.A.F. 2004); United States v. Byrd, 53 M.J. 35 (C.A.A.F. 2000).
Question # 5: How many cases were certified more than once within the study period? 1: United States v. Gutierrez, which has been certified by the Judge Advocate General of the Army twice -- once for each of ACCA's opinions ruling for Gutierrez.
However, each order simply directed the Goverment to "file an answer to assigned issues I and II," without suggesting what those issues might be.
Could one of our Navy or Marine Corps readers -- living or dead -- fill us in about the particular issues that have apparently caught at least one CAAF judge's attention?
I had occasion to do a presentencing hearing last week, and since my client had two NJPs in the previous two years, I was in a position to object to their admission during sentencing on the grounds outlined by CDR Johnson. Since my client will be enjoying the full panoply of rights afforded him by Article 66, we can look forward to seeing how this theory plays in the appellate arena.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
WHETHER, IN LIGHT OF THIS COURT'S DECISION IN UNITED STATES v. ZACHARY, 63 M.J. 438 (C.A.A.F.2006), THE CCA ERRED IN AFFIRMING APPELLANT'S GUILTY PLEA TO CONSENSUAL SODOMY WITH A PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 16 WHEN THE MILITARY JUDGE ERRONEOUSLY INFORMED APPELLANT THAT A MISTAKE OF FACT DEFENSE AS TO AGE CATEGORICALLY DID NOT APPLY TO THE SODOMY CHARGE.
United States v. Allen, __ M.J. ___, No. 07-0615/NA (C.A.A.F. Dec. 14, 2007). CAAF is probably treating the case as a trailer to United States v. Wilson, No. 06-0870/AR, which was reargued on 17 October.
WHETHER THE EVIDENCE IS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A FINDING OF GUILT FOR TRANSPORTING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE WHEN NO EVIDENCE EXISTS THAT APPELLANT UPLOADED CHILD PORNOGRAPHY FROM HIS COMPUTER TO THE INTERNET FILE-SHARING PROGRAM "KAZAA."
WHETHER THE ARMY COURT ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDING OF GUILTY FOR SPECIFICATION 1 OF CHARGE I WHEN THE COURT AFFIRMED UNDER A DIFFERENT THEORY OF LIABILITY THAN WAS PROFFERED TO THE MILITARY PANEL, IN CONTRAVENTION OF CHIARELLA v. UNITED STATES, 445 U.S. 222 (1980).
WHETHER THE MILITARY JUDGE FAILED TO PROPERLY INSTRUCT THE PANEL ON THE ELEMENTS FOR SPECIFICATION 1 OF CHARGE I, BY: (1) OMITTING THE CHARGED LANGUAGE "CAUSE TO BE TRANSPORTED" FROM THE ORAL AND WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS; (2) FAILING TO INSTRUCT ON A POSSIBLE GOVERNMENT ALTERNATE THEORY OF LIABILITY UNDER ARTICLE 77, UCMJ; AND (3) FAILING TO PROPERLY INSTRUCT ON THE TERM "UPLOADING' [sic] WHEN THE COMPUTER EXPERTS AT TRIAL PROVIDED TWO VARYING DEFINITIONS.
United States v. Ober, __ M.J. ___ No. 07-0722/AR (C.A.A.F. Dec. 14, 2007).
Here's a link to ACCA's unpublished opinion in the case. United States v. Ober, No. ARMY 20040081 (A. Ct. Crim. App. May 25, 2007). ACCA tells us that the government conceded that "the evidence is factually and legally insufficient to support the finding of guilty as to transporting child pornography in interstate commerce (Charge I, Specification 1)." Id., slip op. at 1. But ACCA "decline[d] to accept that concession and [found] the evidence legally and factually sufficient." Id. That should make GAD's brief to CAAF interesting reading. Will GAD argue that it was right the first time?
Here's a link to the Army Times piece.
The article by Rick Maze, headlined Pentagon backs off politicizing JAG promotions, begins: "An attempt within the Pentagon to politicize promotions for military judge advocates general appears to have been blocked after protests from military lawyers and threats from key lawmakers."
Monday, December 17, 2007
Both Houses of Congress have now passed the DOD authorization bill's conference committee report, meaning it's now ready for the President's signature. The House passed it on the 12th and the Senate on the 14th. Here's a link to the Thomas overview of the legislation's status.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Stanley Othuru, a Nigerian, entered into a fraudulent marriage with Michelle Othuru, Stanley's biological sister, and collected BAH at the married rate. Michelle and her mother made sworn statements during the course of the investigation admitting to the fraudulent marriage. Neither woman testified. At a trial held before the Supreme Court decided Crawford v. Washington, the military judge admitted both sworn statements in violation of Othuru's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation.
NMCCA held the error to be harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and CAAF agreed. Citing other matters introduced by the government such as a demonstrably fake birth certificate for Michelle and the testimony of a records custodian from a Nigerian hospital, CAAF held that admission of the testimonial hearsay was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wild is a split unpublished NMCCA decision, available here. United States v. Wild, No. NMCCA 200700108 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. Oct. 11, 2007). The government lost the original record of trial in the case. Almost two years after the CA acted, three copies of the record -- but not the original -- showed up at NAMARA. The Navy-Marine Corps Court indicates that it doesn't appear that any trial participant reviewed the copies or validated their completeness.
Writing for himself and Judge Harty, Judge Kelly set aside the CA's action and remanded the case for the military judge to authenticate a copy. Senior Judge Rolph dissented. He argued that given the presumption of regularity, the copies should be assumed to be accurate and complete copies of the lost original.
Without the split in the NMCCA panel, I doubt anyone would have seriously thought about certifying this case to CAAF. Any predictions as to whether the Judge Advocate General of the Navy will choose to certify it?
The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House's policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.
The administration has proposed a regulation requiring "coordination" with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps - the military's 4,000-member uniformed legal force - can be promoted.
A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination - which many former JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or appointment - is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater control over the military lawyers.
ACCA then specified an issue asking whether the trial defense counsel was ineffective by failing to request a mistake of fact instruction regarding the assault consummated LIO. In an unpublished opinion issued on 31 October 2007, ACCA held that the failure to request the instruction was IAC and again set aside the findings and sentence. United States v. Gutierrez, No. ARMY 20040596 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Oct. 31, 2007).
On Thursday, CAAF docketed the following certified issue:
WHETHER THE UNITED STATES ARMY COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE TRIAL DEFENSE COUNSEL PROVIDED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BECAUSE HE WAIVED AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE INSTRUCTION.
United States v. Gutierrez, __ M.J. ___, No. 08-5004/AR (C.A.A.F. Dec. 13, 2007). Did Army GAD file an unsuccessful petition for grant of review, thus explaining why the certificate for review appears to have been filed more than 30 days after ACCA's decision?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Army DAD's cert petition in Foerster, No. 07-359, has been scheduled for conference on 4 January 2008. Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The issue has at least three articles that will interest military justice practitioners. The issue starts with Captain Jason S. Robertson's article, An ADC in the AOR: Defending Those Defending America. With an unembarrassed enthusiasm that is a joy to behold, Capt Robertson writes about his experience setting up a trial defense office in Qatar, from which he would travel through Southwest Asia to provide defense services.
Colonel Charles W. Williamson III writes a detailed piece on the whys and hows of preparing a proof analysis.
The Military Justice Pointers article discusses a urinalysis litigation resource prepared by the legal advisor to the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory. Unfortunately, the web site that the article discusses appears to be available only to those with FLITE access. Once again, this seems to put civilian defense counsel at an unwarranted competitive disadvantage. Each of the JAG Corps' information management specialists should consider how to make such resources available to ALL military justice practitioners -- a group that includes a fairly large number of civilian counsel unaffiliated with the United States government.
Because I have only a portion of the opinion, I can't recite the decisional issue with complete accuracy. But the decision appears to ask whether a military judge may order a proceeding in revision to clean up a deficient providence inquiry.
The opinion thoroughly examines the case law in this area and notes a split among the services and even a split in the Air Force Court's own precedent on the question. The court ultimately holds:
[W]hen an accused has entered a plea of guilty and the military judge fails to complete an inquiry to some or all of the elements but nothing inconsistent with guilt has been raised, we believe that the military judge can order a post-trial Article 39(a) session under R.C.M. 1102 and complete the necessary inquiry prior to authentication of the record. If there is no objection from trial defense counsel at the time of the later session, counsel waives the opportunity to object, exception for cases of material prejudice.
Id., slip op. at 8.
Given the opinion's forthright disagreement with Army and Coast Guard precedent -- as well as with the Air Force Court's own opinion in United States v. Kaetzel, 48 C.M.R. 58 (A.F.C.M.R. 1973) -- a CAAF grant seems likely. See C.A.A.F. R. 21(b)(5)(B)(iii), (iv).
I won't be in a position to put the opinion up on CAAFlog's web site until next Wednesday. But if it's not up on the Air Force Court's web site by then, I'll post it next week.
There has been some interesting commentary on the subject of the effect of computer and phone monitoring on military defense counsel's ability to have privileged communications with their clients.
LeEllen Coacher, who is now on Judge Stucky's staff at CAAF, wrote an interesting Air Force Law Review article that addressed that issue. See LeEllen Coacher, Permitting Systems Protection Monitoring: When the Government Can Look and What It Can See, 46 A.F. L. Rev. 155, *183-88 (1999).
The ABA has also issued a relevant ethics Formal Opinion. ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Formal Opinion No. 99-413, Protecting the Confidentiality of Unencrypted E-Mail, Formal Opinion No. 99-413 (March 10,k 1999).
These sources would tend to suggest that DOD monitoring does not defeat the privilege, especially where DOD has regulations limiting the permissible secondary disclosure of privileged communications. Does anyone have authority suggesting that the attorney-client privilege would be defeated in this context?
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
As noted on other blogs, Colonel Morris has been prohibited from testifying before Congress regarding his stint as Chief Prosecutor . . . however, apparently Canadian radio is OK. Interestingly, on the very same day that Col. Davis was prohibited from testifying, the new Chief Prosecutor announced that evidence obtained through torture is NOT off limits for Guantanamo trials, something Col. Davis strictly prohibited his counsel from using. WaPo coverage here. The story reported,
Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann, who oversees the prosecutors who will try the detainees at military commissions, said that while "torture" is illegal, he cannot say whether waterboarding violates the law. Nor would he say that such evidence would be barred at trial.
"If the evidence is reliable and probative, and the judge concludes that it is in the best interest of justice to introduce that evidence, ma'am, those are the rules we will follow," Hartmann said in response to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.
The final paragraph of Col. Davis' letter (which I wish he would expand into a larger full length piece), sums up the Colonel's position and cites my favorite former POW:
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have said that how we treat the enemy says more about us than it does about him. If we want these military commissions to say anything good about us, it's time to take the politics out of military commissions, give the military control over the process and make the proceedings open and transparent.
"One of the Army values is integrity, which is defined as doing what is right, legally and morally," Maj. Mervin H. Steals, the investigating officer assigned to conduct a preliminary hearing, wrote in his decision. "The moral thing to do is dismiss these charges, to allow 1LT Whiteside to end her military service and receive the benefits that she will desperately need for the remainder of her life."
They also report:
Wolfe [the TC] "failed to present any evidence contradicting the Defense claim" that Whiteside suffered from a psychotic break, Steals wrote. Having heard testimony from two senior psychiatrists, Steals said "it is clear [she] was not mentally responsible for the events of this day."
Finally, they report:
Even if Whiteside were aware of the wrongfulness of her suicide attempt, [the IO] said, "the idea of referring charges on her for this act would be inhumane."
Monday, December 10, 2007
WHETHER THE AIR FORCE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING TRIAL DEFENSE COUNSEL INEFFECTIVE.
WHETHER THE AIR FORCE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS ERRED IN REJECTING TRIAL DEFENSE COUNSEL'S AFFIDAVIT AS UNTIMELY.
United States v. Melson, __ M.J. ___, No. 08-5003/AF (C.A.A.F. Dec. 7, 2007).
The Air Force Court's unpublished per curiam opinion in the case is available here. United States v. Melson, No. ACM 36523 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. Sept. 14, 2007) (per curiam). The Air Force Court ruled that Staff Sergeant Melson had received ineffective assistance of counsel due to his trial defense counsel's failure to challenge the legality of his pretrial confinement.
This case involves yet another airman held in pretrial confinement at a sub-par civilian jail -- this time Georgia's Lowndes County jail. Applying the Ginn factors, the Air Force Court held that Melson had presented sufficient facts to raise the issue of whether his trial defense counsel should have litigated the lawfulness of his pretrial confinement. The court emphasized that his allegations were unrebutted by any facts put forward by the Government. The court observed:
It is possible that the government could have met the burden [of demonstrating lack of illegal pretrial punishment] at trial if the trial defense counsel had raised the issue in that forum. Both sides could have presented evidence in support of their respective positions. However, it was not raised at trial and only the appellant has submitted information in support of his claim to this Court. It is, of course, possible that no evidence was presented at trial because trial defense counsel appropriately determined that the issue had no merit. However, that would merely be speculation on our part. Trial defense counsel is as silent on the issue before this Court as she was at trial. Although the government's argument attacking the appellant's credibility has some merit, it is, by itself, insufficient to prevail. The facts alleged may have resulted in relief for the appellant if they had been brought up during trial.
Id., slip op. at 7.
The Air Force Court remedied the IAC by awarding Melson 142 days of additional pretrial confinement credit.
I understand that at some point after the Air Force Court released this opinion, the Government offered an affidavit from the trial defense counsel, but the Air Force Court rejected it. That appears to be the basis for the second certified issue.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Floor votes in the House and Senate are expected soon; it is anticipated that the President will sign the bill not later than 18 December.
The conference report reportedly provides:
Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1585 –
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
06 Dec 2007
SEC. 543. MODIFICATION OF AUTHORITIES ON SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERALS’ CORPS.
(a) DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. —
(1) GRADE OF JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL. —
Subsection (a) of section 3037 of title 10, United State Code, is amended by striking the third sentence and inserting the following new sentence: ‘‘The Judge Advocate General, while so serving, has the grade of lieutenant general.’’.
(2) REDESIGNATION OF ASSISTANT JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL AS DEPUTY JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL. —
Such section is further amended—
(A) in subsection (a), by striking ‘‘Assistant Judge Advocate General’’ each place it appears and inserting ‘‘Deputy Judge Advocate General’’; and
(B) in subsection (d), by striking ‘‘Assistant Judge Advocate General’’ and inserting ‘‘Deputy Judge Advocate General’’.
(3) CLERICAL AMENDMENTS. —
(A) The heading of such section is amended to read as follows:
‘‘§3037. Judge Advocate General, Deputy Judge Advocate General, and general officers of Judge Advocate General’s Corps: appointment; duties’’.
(B) The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 305 of such title is amended by striking the item relating to section 3037 and inserting the following new item:
‘‘3037. Judge Advocate General, Deputy Judge Advocate General, and general officers of Judge Advocate General’s Corps: appointment; duties.’’.
(b) GRADE OF JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OF THE NAVY. —
Section 5148(b) of such title is amended by striking the last sentence and inserting the following new sentence: ‘‘The Judge Advocate General, while so serving, has the grade of vice admiral or lieutenant general, as appropriate.’’.
(c) GRADE OF JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OF THE AIR FORCE. —
Section 8037(a) of such title is amended by striking the last sentence and inserting the following new sentence: ‘‘The Judge Advocate General, while so serving, has the grade of lieutenant general.’’.
(d) INCREASE IN NUMBER OF OFFICERS SERVING IN GRADES ABOVE MAJOR GENERAL AND REAR ADMIRAL. —
Section 525(b) of such title is amended in paragraphs (1) and (2) (A) by striking ‘‘15.7 percent’’ each place it appears and inserting ‘‘16.3 percent’’.
(e) LEGAL COUNSEL TO CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF.—
(1) IN GENERAL. — Chapter 5 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
‘‘§ 156. Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL. — There is a Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
‘‘(b) SELECTION FOR APPOINTMENT.—Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense, the officer selected for appointment to serve as Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall be recommended by a board of officers convened by the Secretary of Defense that, insofar as practicable, is subject to the procedures applicable to selection boards convened under chapter 36 of this title.
‘‘(c) GRADE. — An officer appointed to serve as Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall, while so serving, hold the grade of brigadier general or rear admiral (lower half).
‘‘(d) DUTIES. — The Legal Counsel of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall perform such legal duties in support of the responsibilities of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the Chairman may prescribe.’’.
(2) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 5 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
‘‘156. Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’’.
The report also authorizes CAAF judges to administer oaths under Article 136 and requires the Secretary of Defense to prescribe regulations prohibiting active participation by members of the Armed Forces in a criminal street gang.
I'll send the text to No Man and ask him to put it up on CAAFlog.com.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
"5. No Right to Computer Privacy-------------------------------Beginning Dec. 12, Defense Department computers will carry new notices which will clearly tell both civilian and uniformed users that they have no right to privacy while using them. By using the computers, the notices will say, employees automatically understand and consent to monitoring of their emails. Shorter versions of the notices will also appear on government-owned BlackBerrys and other smaller electronic devices. The new notices come in the wake of a recent landmark decision by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, involving a service member who used a government computer to discuss an impending drug test and the steps she took to mask her own drug use. She was convicted at court-martial based on evidence seized from her government computer, but another lower appeals court overturned the conviction because the existing language of the notice did not clearly state there was no right to privacy on government computers. The CAAF decision reversed the lower appeals court's ruling."
PS - You can sign up for the newsletter at www.fedweek.com. It usually contains about 10 short bursts on personnel issues, legislative initiatives, etc., and provides URL's to promotion board results. It's released every Friday afternoon.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Incidentally, CAAFlog was contacted by the Sun to assist in obtaining the actual charge sheets (appropriately redacted to conceal victim names, of course). We did not make any contact with the Trial Counsel of convening authority, we just report the news, but we post the inquiry because of the news worthy result . . . the Marine Corps refused Sun writer Brad Olson's request to release the actual charge sheets, even though redacted charge sheets have commonly been released in high profile cases.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I think Custis is absolutely correct (a view with which JMTGst will likely disagree) and will almost certainly lead to a change in Military Rule of Evidence 504 to adopt a joint crime participant exception -- as the opinion expressly recognizes that the President is empowered to adopt. Id., slip op. at 9 n.8.
Today's second opinion is United States v. Parrish, __ M.J. ___, No. 07-0079/AR (C.A.A.F. Dec. 5, 2007), a unanimous opinion by Judge Erdmann. Parrish is a fact intensive decision involving application of the Ginn factors to determine whether ACCA could resolve a factual dispute itself or was required to remand the case for a DuBay hearing. CAAF concludes -- correctly, in my opinion -- that a DuBay hearing is necessary to resolve the factual conflict. But the whole Ginn approach cries out for a Manual change far more than does any need to tinker with Military Rule of Evidence 504. This is because every state and the federal civilian criminal justice system has a "post-conviction" proceeding or its equivalent to allow a convicted defendant who has completed direct appeal to challenge his or her conviction or sentence based on evidence from outside the record. See generally Randy Hertz & James S. Liebman, Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure 190 (4th ed. 2001). The House Armed Services Committee intended the petition for new trial to play a similar role in the military justice system, but it hasn't proved to be an effective counterpart, which has led CAAF to create the whole DuBay/Ginn framework. But this framework seems an inadequate substitute for a post-conviction proceeding because it plays out at the appellate level rather than the trial level, which in turn leads to enormous difficulties in fact finding and fact proving. Battles of affidavits ensue, leading to opinions like today's Parrish decision. There has got to be a better way. Any judge advocates who are now at TJAGLCS or who will be going there soon might want to make that their thesis topic -- is the current military justice analog to a post-conviction/28 U.S.C. § 2255 proceeding adequate and, if not, what system should be adopted in its place?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The proposal would amend Rule 36A in four ways: (1) it would better accord with reality by deleting the provision that the Rule 36A letter may not contain argument, in favor of a provision that "the letter must state why the supplemental citations are pertinent and significant"; (2) it would limit the body of a Rule 36A letter to 350 words; (3) it would require that the supplemental authority be attached to the letter; and (4) it would require that letters filed less than 5 days before an argument be submitted and served by overnight carrier or a faster method.
To paraphrase Meatloaf, three out of four ain't bad. The first change makes great sense, since as the Rules Advisory Committee notes, the line between explaining why the supplemental authority is relevant and "argument" is non-existent. In light of the first change, the second change also makes great sense to ensure that the letter doesn't become a vehicle for smuggling a supplemental brief into the courthouse. The fourth change is also sensible, though it will likely affect only civilian counsel since all of the military appellate shops probably send runners to E Street in this situation -- and walk the letter across the hall to serve their opposing counsel.
That leaves the third change. The Rules Advisory Committee tells us that this change has no counterpart in FRAP Rule 28(j). And little wonder, since its main effect will be to kill trees. I will bet you that most of the supplemental authority cited in Rule 36A letters consists of military justice cases that counsel come across during the moot court process. Why would the rules require counsel to attach copies of cases that every judge and CAAF staffer already has a copy of? If the supplemental authority is something esoteric, then the wise advocate will provide a copy even in the absence of a rule requiring it. If there is any need for a rule requiring counsel to append a copy of the supplemental authority, how about expressly exempting cases published in the Military Justice Reporter, Court-Martial Reports, the Supreme Court Reporter, the Federal Reporter (1, 2, or 3), and the Federal Supplement (1 and 2)? That could save a forest.
Monday, December 03, 2007
PVT Roach pled guilty to and was found guilty of stealing a night vision goggle and conspiring to steal a night vision goggle. Neither spec alleged that the NVG was military property, but all of the trial's participants operated on the assumption that the military property sentencing aggravator applied. (The larceny spec alleged that PVT Roach stole a "Night Vision Goggle (AN PVS-14), of a value of about $3,138.00, the property of the United States Government." As ACCA noted, "Neither specification included the specific words 'military property' when describing the NVG." Id., slip op. at 3.)
The military judge nevertheless told PVT Roach that the military nature of the property was an element of the offense, defined "military property," and elicited Roach's agreement that the NVG was military property.
ACCA found that "the unique military nature of an NVG is readily apparent from its purpose and function." Id., slip op. at 6. The court continued:
Equally significant, both the larceny and conspiracy specifications alleged that the property was stolen "at or near Fort Benning, Georgia" and was an "AN/PVS-14, [Night Vision Goggle]6 . . . property of the United States Government." (emphasis added). Accordingly, the unique military nomenclature of the stolen NVG, location of theft, and identification of the item as belonging to the United States Government is sufficient on these facts to fairly characterize the property as military property.
The specifications provided sufficient notice that the object of the larceny and conspiracy was military property, protected appellant from double jeopardy, and appellant has alleged no specific prejudice due to the omission. Consequently, "under the circumstances of this case, the specification is sufficient to withstand challenge at this late stage of the proceedings." Watkins, 21 M.J. at 210.
Id., slip op. at 7.
Here's the weird part. ACCA includes this quotation in the first paragraph of its discussion: "There is no special repercussion at all flowing from whether the property was 'property of the United States Government.' United States v. Hemingway, 36 M.J. 349, 352 (C.M.A. 1993)." Roach, slip op. at 6. Let's look at the two sentences that immediately follow that one in Hemingway, shall we?
Consequently, we agree with appellant that, in the absence of an allegation that the object of the conspiracy to steal was "military property," the maximum confinement imposable for each of the two conspiracy specifications here was 5 years. See [Manual for Courts-Martial, United State (1984),] para. 46e(1)(d) (Change 3). This reduces the total maximum sentence to confinement that appellant faced to 30 years (5 years for each conspiracy and 10 years for each larceny of military property), not 40 years, as the military judge advised.
Hemingway, 36 M.J. at 352.
Am I misreading Judge Wiss's opinion for a unanimous court, or does Hemingway address exactly the issue decided by Roach and reach exactly the opposite conclusion? If I'm not misreading it, how could ACCA have quoted Hemingway without discovering that the very next sentence compels the opposite conclusion from the one ACCA reached?
Now the Hemingway opinion might not ultimately help PVT Roach. It certainly didn't help Specialist Hemingway. CMA concluded that Hemingway would have pled out with the same deal regardless of whether his maximum sentence was calculated at the military property or non-military property rate. But even if ACCA reached the right result in Roach, it seems to have done so by an impermissible means -- by ignoring CMA's holding that "in the absence of an allegation that the object of the conspiracy to steal was 'military property,' the maximum confinement imposable for each of the two conspiracy specifications here was 5 years." 36 M.J. at 352.
The central issue in Heitkamp seems to be whether it is sufficient to constitute an Article 112a offense for the accused to know that he or she possesses a substannce and that -- regardless of whether the accused knows this or not -- that substance is illegal. In other words, if an accused possesses a particular steroid and knows that the substance is that steroid, is the accused guilty of violating Article 112a even if the accused honestly believes that possession of that steroid is legal? Yes, rules ACCA. Here is the court's principal analysis of the issue:
To be guilty of wrongful possession of a controlled substance, an accused need only have knowledge as to the presence and identity of the substance. Mance, 26 M.J. at 254. Appellant admitted to both. He agreed that he knew he possessed the steroid tablets, an unprescribed, Schedule III controlled substance. Although the military judge informed appellant that he must know "the substance was of a contraband nature" and he "must know of the contraband nature of the substance[,]" the military judge merely read an inartfully drafted instruction and did not provide appellant with a defense to his conduct.
Based upon how "contraband" is defined in the MCM . . ., "contraband nature" implies unlawful nature of the item possessed. Thus, use of the term "contraband nature" in the MCM and Benchbook might be incorrectly read to imply appellant must know of the unlawful nature of the item. This is not the law. Appellant's knowledge of unlawfulness is not required and his lack of knowledge of the unlawfulness of a contraband item is not a defense. Rather, the law only requires that an accused know the substance is anything unlawfully possessed (i.e., contraband). Appellant admitted just that by agreeing he knew he possessed methandienone and that he now knows it is unlawful to do so.
Id., slip op. at 9 (footnotes omitted).
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The article indicates that at the Article 32 hearing, the "psychiatrist who performed Whiteside's sanity board evaluation testified that he found the lieutenant insane at the time of the shooting. One of the doctors said that Whiteside had a 'severe mental disease or [defect]" and that she "did not appreciate the nature and quality of her actions."
The article also recounts a dramatic exchange:
[MAJ Stefan Wolfe, the trial counsel] pressed a senior psychiatrist at Walter Reed to justify his diagnosis.
"I'm not here to play legal games," Col. George Brandt responded angrily, according to a recording of the hearing. "I am here out of the genuine concern for a human being that's breaking and that is broken. She has a severe and significant illness. Let's treat her as a human being, for Christ's sake."
A decision on disposition of the charges is pending.