Confinement and MRE 609(b)

Impeachment with conviction.

Mil. R. Evid. 609(b) issues of impeachment with a prior conviction rarely come up at court-martial.  But if there were to be a prior conviction there may be some interpretation necessary.  So parsing several posts of Prof. Colin Miller the Great at Evidence Prof Blog, here we go.

If you want to find an especially terrible analysis of Rule 609(b), you need to look no further than the recent opinion of the Eleventh Circuit in United States v. Colon, 2012 WL 1368162 (11th Cir. 2012). Even worse, that terrible analysis meant that the Eleventh Circuit sidestepped the most interesting issue in the case.

So, today’s post:

So, what constitutes "confinement" for Rule 609(b)? This was an issue that the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida did not need to address in its recent opinion in United States v. Sararo, 2012 WL 3041182 (M.D.Fla. 2012). But that didn’t stop the court from implying that a period of probation constituted "confinement" for Rule 609(b) purposes.

. . . .

I’m not sure what import to give to the court’s statement on probation as "confinement." Was the court simply saying that even if probation is confinement, Meehan’s convictions were still more than ten years’ old? Or was the court implying that probation does constitute "confinement" for Rule 609(b) purposes? I don’t know, but the issue already could have been resolved when the Eleventh Circuit recently should have, but did not, address the issue.

In Colon the most interesting issue was whether a suspended sentence is “confinement” for Mil. R. Evid. 609(b) purposes, and the issue in Sararo related to probation after a conviction.