The recent Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals case illustrates why defense counsel, and staff judge advocates, should exercise care with victim impact statements submitted post trial.
In United States v. Goss, the court reminds us that:
Article 60, UCMJ, was amended to include a new subsection “(d)” that authorized the submission of victim impact statements. See National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-66, § 1706, 127 Stat. 672, 960-61 (2013). However, the amended Article 60, UCMJ, does not address what may be included in a victim impact statement:
My title is from the title of a piece in Mother Jones.
Federal agencies don’t have a uniform definition of sexual assault, and that has led to dramatically different estimates on the frequency of sexual violence in the United States, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
Currently, four federal agencies—the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense—manage at least 10 efforts to collect data. The problems begin in how sexual violence is described and categorized. Agencies rarely used the same terminology to describe acts of sexual violence, the report found, and even when they did, there were differences in how they measured each act[.]
In today’s CAAF Journal we see:
No. 16-0615/AF. U.S. v. Zavian M.T. Addison. CCA S32287. 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:
WHETHER APPELLANT IS ENTITLED TO NEW POST-TRIAL PROCESSING BECAUSE THE ADDENDUM TO THE STAFF JUDGE ADVOCATE’S RECOMMENDATION FAILED TO CORRECT AN ERROR IN APPELLANT’S CLEMENCY SUBMISSION.
If you are being prosecuted in the Air Force.
If your military defense counsel is not raising this issue.
WHETHER THE AFCCA ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO GRANT RELIEF WHERE THE MILITARY JUDGE INSTRUCTED THE MEMBERS, “IF BASED ON YOUR CONSIDERATION OF THE EVIDENCE, YOU ARE FIRMLY CONVINCED THAT THE ACCUSED IS GUILTY OF ANY OFFENSE CHARGED, YOU MUST FIND HIM GUILTY,” WHERE SUCH AN INSTRUCTION IS IN VIOLATION OF UNITED STATES v. MARTIN LINEN SUPPLY CO., 430 U.S. 564, 572-73 (1977), AND THERE IS INCONSISTENT APPLICATION BETWEEN THE SERVICES OF THE INSTRUCTIONS RELATING TO WHEN MEMBERS MUST OR SHOULD CONVICT AN ACCUSED.
I am an unabashed advocate of DoD finding a way to have all military courts in a module in PACER, or that DoD develop something similar.
But, until that happens, military appellate court websites are a necessary tool for a military justice practitioner (TC/DC, SJA, MJ). So I do have a sense of frustration when they are down for longer than 24 hours. Here’s my why this is frustrating.
Every morning after my first coffee and cigar I open up the website for each of the military appellate courts. (My feedly feed brings me CAAFLog in the regular stream.)
After a lengthy down time, CAAF and AFCCA are back on line.