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.

Sara Koenig, Was Anyone Killed Looking for Bowe Bergdahl? Some Hard Evidence at Long Last, 6 October 2016.

After nearly a year of waiting, [Serial has] finally received the Army’s internal investigations into the 2009 deaths of six soldiers from Bowe Bergdahl’s unit: MW, CB, KC, MM, DA and MM.

None of these investigations report that any of these men was on a mission to look for Bergdahl. Neither Bergdahl’s name, nor the term DUSTWUN (shorthand for a missing soldier), appears in any of the documents.

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has decided United States v. Hennis, the military’s latest death penalty appeal.

The opinion is 106 pages long, so it will take a little time read.  But what struck me immediately were the statistics.

The case was heard en banc.  However, of 12 judges assigned to court and initially eligible to participate, all but four were disqualified for one reason or another.

In United States v. Lopez, Army Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, but there is no opinion on the Army court website and I don’t see it in Lexis.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has specified an issue for review in this case as follows:

No. 16-0487/AR. U.S. v. Mario I. Lopez. CCA 20140943 [2016 CAAF LEXIS 773].  On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted on the following issue specified by the Court:

32 CFR Part 105 Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Procedures; Final Rule, of 27 September 2016, 81 FR 66424.

This rule contains amendments to an interim final rule published in the Federal Register on April 11, 2013, which provided guidance and procedures for the SAPR Program. This included establishing the processes and procedures for the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Kit; establishing the multidisciplinary Case Management Group (CMG), providing guidance on how to handle sexual assault; and establishing minimum program standards, training requirements, and requirements for the DoD Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. This rule adds amendments from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, which contains a provision that preempts state laws that require disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) of the adult sexual assault victim or alleged perpetrator to local or state law enforcement. This interim final rule implements this provision with respect to care sought at DoD Installations.

81 FR 66185, of 27 September 2016.

No. 16-0704/AR. U.S. v. Dwight Harris, Jr. CCA 20131045. On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted on the following issue:



The decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals is set aside. The record of trial is returned to the Judge Advocate General of the Army for remand to that court for consideration of the granted issue.

This article showed that the vast majority of court-martial sentences are affirmed by AFCCA. On the rare occasion when sentence relief was granted, it was usually not based on factual sufficiency or sentence appropriateness. While there has been some fluctuation in how often AFCCA grants sentence relief, it is minimal and to some extent explained by the influence CAAF has on it.

That’s the conclusion of Maj. Kevin Gotfredson and Capt. Micah Smith in their article, Sentence Relief: At the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals During the Last 10 Years.  43(3) THE REPORTER 21 (2016).  Their research was motivated by public discussion of an “epidemic” number of valid convictions being reversed because of “factual sufficiency.”

See more discussion at my website here.


so starts a post at wrongfulconvictionsblog–Junk Science Reigns ____ So Much for True Science in the Courtroom.

[W]hen the National Academy of Sciences report Forensic Science in the United States; A Path Forward was published

people thought we might see a true effort to address “junk science being used to convict innocent people.”