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.

I’m used to having some media interest in my cases or being asked to comment on someone else’s.  With that in mind, I try hard to be careful on staying within bounds of what can be said or which can but shouldn’t.

The 48th Criminal Law Seminar for VACLE has this module.

Trial Publicity, Social Media, and Case Commentary: Can Litigating in the Court of Public Opinion Get Lawyers into Trouble?

[V]iolations of Brady are the most recurring and pervasive of all constitutional procedural violations, with disastrous consequences: innocent people are wrongfully convicted; the reputation of U.S. prosecutors suffer; and the absence of meaningful legal and ethical enforcement and accountability has a corrosive effect on the public’s perception of a justice system that often appears to be arbitrary, unjust, and simply unreliable.

Bennett L. Gershman, Litigating Brady v. Maryland: Games Prosecutors Play, 57 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 13, 15 (2007).

The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) has issued an interesting en banc (5-3) opinion in United States v. Hamilton, 76 M.J. ___ (A. F. Ct. Crim. App. 2017), about victim impact evidence or statements.

The accused pleaded guilty to the possession and distribution of child pornography.  On sentencing, as we often see in these cases, the prosecution introduced unsworn statements of the victims, all of which predated the accused’s date of offenses.  For those who haven’t been exposed to these statements, generally, they review the abuse that occurred at the time the video or image was taken and the subsequent life and health effects on the victim.  We know that courts allow such information because of the idea that a victim is re-victimized each time a person views or distributes the images–it’s essentially an ongoing crime.  Slip op. at 7-8.

I think there are several takeaways for practitioners.

There was a time when the military allowed people to learn from their mistakes.  There were times that people were allowed to get away with “murder” under that philosophy.  So times changed, largely as a result of the “zero tolerance” of drug abuse.  So, more and more we have, it can be argued, reached a point of intolerance for error and no longer allowing people to benefit and learn from mistakes.

In this context, the comment on an USMA investigation is interesting.

USMA stands behind Cadet x, as it stands behind our young men and women who choose to become part of it at great personal expense in order to emerge on the other end as leaders of character,” the academy statement said. “These are leaders who are not immune from mistakes or their consequences but who are uniquely equipped to learn and grow from them.”

United States v. Hennis.

Appellant’s case is before this Court for mandatory review under Article 67(a)(1), Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 10 U.S.C. § 867(a)(1) (2012). Appellant has filed a consolidated motion requesting, in relevant part, appointment of appellate defense team members pursuant to the Army’s capital litigation regulation, as well as funding for learned counsel, a mitigation specialist, and a fact investigator.  We conclude that this Court does not have the constitutional, statutory, or regulatory authority to provide Appellant with the relief he seeks. Accordingly, we deny Appellant’s motion.

Why Military Courts Won’t Prevent The Next Texas Church Shooting, in Stars & Stripes, repeated in Task & Purpose.

Former airman Devin P. Kelley had choked his wife and put a gun to her head. He’d fractured her baby’s skull. He’d made threats to his commanders and he’d been committed to a mental hospital. Those acts foretold Kelley as a potential killer, experts say, and make the Air Force’s failure to enter his name into an FBI database especially egregious.

For those looking for the future of changes to the UCMJ and the MCM, there are a number of seeds in this article.

Today, SCOTUSBlog tells about some grants and denials.  One may be of interest to military justice practitioners.

they denied review in an Alabama death-penalty case, over a lengthy dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor that was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. . . . That order drew a sharp 14-page dissent[.]

Here is a link to the order.

It is always good to file or submit petitions and pleadings on time.  Sometimes the due date can be complicated.

Let’s say your due date falls on a Sunday?  A federal holiday?  Or???  Here is a thought from friend and colleague Dew Process.

CAAF, in its decision in United States v. Rodriguez, 67 M.J. 110 (CAAF), cert. denied 558 U.S. 969 (2009).  The majority in Rodriguez held that the 60 day time-limit in Article 67(b), UCMJ, was jurisdictional and rejected the long-standing precedent of this Court essentially adopting the “equitable tolling” principle. The Rodriguez majority based its decision on Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205 (2007), a federal civil appeal in a habeas corpus action.