Thursday, February 14, 2008

Exploring the finer points of fraudulent enlistment

CAAF today affirmed the Coast Guard Court's ruling in United States v. Holbrook, __ M.J. ___, No. 07-0350/CG (C.A.A.F. Feb. 14, 2008), which we previously discussed here.

Seaman Holbrook lied on his enlistment form by providing a radically underinclusive account of his preservice drug use. To be found guilty of fraudulent enlistment, one must "knowingly misrepresent[] or deliberately conceal[] a certain material fact or facts regarding [one's] qualifications . . . for enlistment." Manual for Courts-Martial, United States, pt. IV, ¶ 7.b.(1) (2005 ed.). The issue in before CAAF in Holbrook is whether the accused must know of the materiality of the misrepresentation. No, held CAAF. "The question of whether a fact is 'regarding qualifications' for 'enlistment,' and 'material,' is analyzed from the perspective of the service making the decision on the enlistment, note from the perspective of the untruthful applicant." Id., slip op. at 5. CAAF agrees with the Coast Guard Court that "it would be irrational to require that an applicant fully understand the consequences of a truthful statement because it would mean prospective enlistees would need to possess thorough knowledge of the service's enlistment standards and policies prior to applying for and entering active duty." Id., slip op. at 6.

Judge Ryan for a unanimous court.

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