This site is for the trial practitioner (the military lawyer) of military justice, and for the information of U.S. active duty, Guard, and reserve service-members, their spouses and their families. Our goal is to focus on trial practice issues in cases arising under the UCMJ and being tried at court martial. We hasten to add that nothing on this blog should be taken as specific legal advice for a specific client.

Chief Judge Erdmann is scheduled to leave the court in July 2017.

At that point, the next judge in line will fleet up to be chief judge.  Interestingly Judges Stucky and Ryan took the oath on the same day for the same term.  However, I’m reliably advised that by statute Judge Stucky will become chief judge.

It appears DoD has sent out a letter to various bar associations soliciting nominations, to be submitted by the end of March.

As part of due diligence defense counsel want to know as much about a witness as possible–that’s OK and ethical.  Many of us have found helpful information on social media accounts.

The gist of Formal Opinion 466 is that, within the context of Model Rule 3.5, a lawyer may review a juror’s or potential juror’s various postings on websites and social media. But the lawyer should not send jurors or prospective jurors a request for access, either directly or indirectly, to their social media accounts because doing so would amount to a violation of the prohi-bition in Model Rule 3.5(b) against ex parte communications with jurors that are not authorized by law or court order.

While the above applies to a court-martial member, it’s likely a best practice when researching witnesses in a case.

CAAF’s Daily Journal has this entry for 8 March 2017.

No. 17-0226/AF. U.S. v. Dorian K. Owens. CCA 38834. On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted on the following issue:


We caution trial counsel…[as to] how difficult this area of the law can be. There are still issues to be resolved in this arena…. With precedents far from settled, only the bravest of advocacy acrobats ought to tempt fate. (They do so at their own peril, for we guarantee no safety net against reversal).

United States v. Weddle, 61 M.J. 506, 510 (C.G. Ct. Crim. App. 2004), citing United States v. Edwards, 35 M.J. 351 (C.M.A. 1992).

The SCOTUS might soon give us an idea on the subject of jury nullification in Lee v. United States.

Issue: Whether it is always irrational for a noncitizen defendant with longtime legal resident status and extended familial and business ties to the United States to reject a plea offer notwithstanding strong evidence of guilt when the plea would result in mandatory and permanent deportation.

It is not obvious from the Issue that nullification is central to the case.  But, Ilya Shapiro, The Right to Hope for Jury Nullification, CATO Institute, 9 February 2017, explains.

Today we take up the defense’s assignment of error and address the application of Mil. R. Evid. 412 to the government. Does Mil. R. Evid. 412 apply to the government? Yes. Must the government follow the procedural requirements before introducing evidence that falls under Mil. R. Evid. 412? Again, yes. And, finally, what happens when the military judge admits government Mil. R. Evid. 412 evidence without first requiring the government to follow the rule’s procedural requirements? We test for prejudice.

United States v. Carista, No. 20150243 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 18, 2017).

The Virginia legislature has passed SB1563.  There are several provisions which should be adopted in military cases.

D. Whenever the Commonwealth intends to introduce expert opinion testimony at trial, the attorney for the Commonwealth shall notify in writing the accused of the Commonwealth’s intent to present such testimony not later than 14 days before trial, or as otherwise ordered by the court. The notice shall include the witness’s name and contact information, a summary of the witness’s qualifications, the substance of the facts and opinions to which the witness is expected to testify, a summary of the grounds for each opinion, and copies of written reports, if any, prepared by the witness.

There is a reciprocal requirement for the defense.  The new VA rule is consistent with federal practice under Fed. R. Crim. Pro 16(a)(G), and with then Judge D. Vowell (Army) in her court-martial scheduling orders.

MCIO ‘ware.  It still doesn’t protect your phone, especially if you give consent–but what the heck, it’s something.

NACDL Press Release: Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Welcomes Passage by House of Representatives of the Email Privacy Act

Washington, DC (Feb. 6, 2017) – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387). This bill is a long overdue update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a bill passed in 1986 that governs the treatment of electronic communications. The Email Privacy Act establishes that law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant to access the content of most electronic communications and cloud-stored content from third-party providers and eliminates the arbitrary rule that would allow the government to obtain emails older than 180 days with a subpoena. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the last Congress 419-0.

AF Reporter.

THE FIFTH AMENDMENT IN THE DIGITAL WORLD 2 Technology has breathed new life into the interpretation of constitutional provisions.

EXCEPTIONAL TRANSITIONAL COMPENSATION 34 Help for Family Member Victims When Discharge Happens Before the Offense is Adjudicated [; increasing the secondary gain incentive].