Saturday, November 15, 2008

Supremes docket military pro se cert petition

This past week, the Supremes docketed a pro se IFP cert petition that had actually been filed more than a month earlier. Lucero v. United States, No. 08-7196. CAAF affirmed in a summary disposition. United States v. Lucero, 67 M.J. 8 (C.A.A.F. 2008). Lucero was convicted of premeditated murder at a contested court-martial and sentenced to LWOP. Here's a link to ACCA's unpublished opinion in the case. United States v. Lucero, No. Army 20020869 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Sep. 17, 2007).


Cloudesley Shovell said...

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole case, other than the cold-blooded murder, is laid out in the first two paragraphs of the opinion:

"Appellant’s wife, while still married to and living with appellant, began an affair with the victim, SPC F, who was also stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. The affair apparently started while appellant was deployed to the National Training Center in August 2000. According to the testimony at trial, this affair was well known in SPC F’s unit. In September 2000, Mrs. Lucero and appellant’s daughter moved in with SPC F. Appellant, upon learning of his wife’s affair, was understandably upset. Appellant reported SPC F’s activities to appellant’s chain of command, but apparently neither appellant’s chain of command nor SPC F’s chain of command took any action. Appellant, unhappy with his situation at Fort Hood, deserted his unit on 23 March 2001. His wife subsequently filed for divorce.

Appellant made several threats against SPC F, including telling one noncommissioned officer, Sergeant (SGT) B, “he would kill that mother fucker if he gets in front of my family.” Sergeant B took appellant’s threat seriously and notified SPC F and SPC F’s chain of command."

[Thereafter in June 2001, Appellant shoots SPC F in the head in front of witnesses]

This case can stand for all time as a demonstration of why adultery is a breach of military law. If anyone ever again asks why adultery is against the law in the military, just refer them to this case.

SPC F carried on an open an notorious relationship with another soldier's wife while that soldier was deployed, and paid for it with his life. What is so truly appalling is that nobody's chain of command did anything about it, even after SGT B reported specific threats to the chain of command.

I'd ask if anyone in charge was relieved, censured, or otherwise reprimanded for their appalling dereliction of duty for failing to address this gross breach of military discipline, but being the cynic that I am, I already know the answer.

Dew_Process said...

I agree with the Admiral - if it was that "open and notorious" just where was the chain-of-command for both Soldiers?

But, equally as disturbing is the fact that while probably not a "winner" on the merits, it is not a frivolous cert petition, and so, why doesn't Lucero have counsel? In some States, there is an ethical obligation if one is appointed counsel on appeal to handle the Cert petition.

Even if not, it is an unseemly appearance for any "justice" system to deprive one of counsel when the very issue of the appeal is just that - the deprivation of counsel.