New ACCA case

ACCA has released an opinion in United States v. Martinez.  Here is the first issue:

WHETHER A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD QUESTION THE TRIAL JUDGE’S IMPARTIALITY WHEN A SENIOR MILITARY JUDGE, WHO APPEARED TO HAVE ASSISTED THE GOVERNMENT DURING TRIAL, ENTERED THE TRIAL JUDGE’S CHAMBERS DURING RECESS AND DELIBERATIONS, IN VIOLATION OF APPELLANT’S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.

This appears to be an interesting situation of the supervising judge from the gallery seeing some things going wrong with how the judge was conducting the case.  The supervising judge ended up communicating to the trial judge initially through trial counsel, in the court-room, while trial was ongoing.  The contacts with trial counsel are described as “irregular.”

The purpose of the irregular contacts was to assist the judge who had missed some significant questions in the Green-King inquiry (see R.C.M. 910(f)(4), and that there was some extra questions needed asking in the Care inquiry.

There was no impropriety in the supervisory judge pointing out ongoing error in how the trial judge was conducting the case.  The problem was communicating through trial counsel, a failure to have a full disclosure on the record, and defense counsel not objecting and making a record.

After all that, there was a problem with pleading and acceptance of a guilty plea to an LIO that was not an LIO. 

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