MRE 412 status – 250811

United States v. Gaddis was decided by CAAF.

Here are two pithy comments on the decision, one by DMLHS, and one by Professor Colin Miller.

Basically the opinion deals with the question of a complaining witness’s privacy.  Many TC and some judges apply the balancing test focused on prejudice to the complaining witness’s privacy.  As the CAAF held in Gaddis, that is the wrong analysis.

The M.R.E. 412(c)(3) "balancing test"…is anything but simple to understand or apply, but it is not facially unconstitutional. There is no question that even considering the privacy interest of the victim will yield a constitutionally valid result (1) when applied to evidence that is both constitutionally required and whose probative value outweighs the danger of unfair prejudice, as well as (2) when applied to evidence that is not constitutionally required and whose probative value does not outweigh the danger of unfair prejudice. The test would only be unconstitutional in circumstances under which a military judge excluded evidence, the exclusion of which would violate the constitutional rights of the accused, because its probative value did not outweigh the danger of unfair prejudice to the alleged victim’s privacy. In those circumstances, the test would be unconstitutional as applied.

the term “unfair prejudice” in the context of M.R.E. 403 "speaks to the capacity of some concededly relevant evidence to lure the factfinder into declaring guilt on a ground different from proof specific to the offense charged."….M.R.E. 403 addresses prejudice to the integrity of the trial process, not prejudice to a particular party or witness (emphasis added).

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