Thursday, December 04, 2008

CAAF releases harmless error opinion

It's a rare day in military justice when the release of a CAAF opinion is the second-most significant story of the day. But today is such a day, which reflects both the importance of today's lead story -- Staff Sergeant Martinez's acquittal -- and the doctrinal insignificance of the case CAAF released today, United States v. Crudup, __ M.J. ___, No. 08-0392/AR (C.A.A.F. Dec. 4, 2008).

Judge Stucky wrote for a three-judge majority in Crudup consisting of himself and Judges Erdmann and Ryan. The three voted to affirm ACCA's ruling in the case. Chief Judge Effron, joined by Judge Baker, dissented.

ACCA had concluded that certain hearsay testimony had been admitted in violation of Private Crudup's confrontation rights, but held that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt and affirmed. The CAAF majority chastised ACCA for failing to perform a complete harmlessness analysis under Delaware v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673 (1986). But after applying Van Arsdall itself, the majority concluded that the error was harmless.

The dissent agreed with the majority that Van Arsdall provided the proper test, but disagreed with the majority's outcome when applying that test. So the dispute in Crudup appears to affect a universe of one case.


Mike "No Man" Navarre said...

Not to be disagreeable or anything, but I might add one possible significant factor in this case. This is one of the first times we have seen the all GOP appointed bloc unite. A trend for the future?

Mike "No Man" Navarre said...

That should be "one of the few", not one of the first-which makes no sense.