Articles Posted in Appeals

Under Article 62, UCMJ, the prosecution can appeal a military judge’s trial ruling under six circumstances.  The two most common are:

(A) An order or ruling of the military judge which terminates the proceedings with respect to a charge or specification.

For example, a military judge dismisses a specification because the specification fails to state an offense.  That is what happened in United States v. Schloff.  The government appealed, the ACCA decided the appeal in favor of the government, CAAF agreed with the ACCA, and the Supreme Court declined to issue a writ of certiorari.  (We are now in the traditional Article 66, UCMJ, appeal before ACCA on the sole specification for which there was a conviction.)

The CAAF daily journal for 15 June 2017 has this entry:  No. 17-0003/AR. U.S. v. Christopher B. Hukill. CCA 20140939. On consideration of Appellee’s petition for reconsideration of this Court’s decision, United States v. Hukill, 76 M.J. 219 (C.A.A.F. 2017), it is ordered that said petition for reconsideration be, and the same is, hereby denied.

To refresh.

CAAF decided the Army case of United States v. Hukill, 76 M.J. 219, No. 17-0003/AR (slip op.beside-link-icon), on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. A short opinion reiterates the rationale of United States v. Hills, 75 M.J. 350 (C.A.A.F. Jun. 27, 2016) .  “[T]he use of evidence of charged conduct as M.R.E. 413 propensity evidence for other charged conduct in the same case is error, regardless of the forum, the number of victims, or whether the events are connected.” Slip op. at 6. CAAF reverses the decision of the Army CCA that found Hills inapplicable in judge-alone trials, reverses the appellant’s convictions, and authorizes a rehearing.

CAAF’s Daily Journal has this entry for 8 March 2017.

No. 17-0226/AF. U.S. v. Dorian K. Owens. CCA 38834. 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 THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS VIOLATED APPELLANT’S FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHT AGAINST DOUBLE JEOPARDY WHEN IT AFFIRMED A CONVICTION FOR THE LESSER-INCLUDED OFFENSE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT BY BODILY HARM, WHEN APPELLANT WAS CHARGED WITH THAT SAME OFFENSE AT TRIAL AND ACQUITTED BY A PANEL OF OFFICERS.

CBS news has picked up this:

A former Fort Bragg soldier who killed four women and raped others more than 25 years ago is again headed for execution.

The Fayetteville Observer reports Ronald Gray last week lost a battle to keep in place a federal court’s order issued eight years ago blocking his execution.

John Wesley Hall’s website is an excellent resource for issues involving the Fourth Amendment–FourthAmendment.com.  In pointing to a search warrant case Mr. Hall quotes from the opinion.

We remind McCollum’s counsel that “the statement of facts in an appellate brief should be a concise narrative of the facts stated in accordance with the standard of review appropriate to the judgment and should not be argumentative.” King v. State, 799 N.E.2d 42, 45 n.2 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003) (citing Ind. Appellate Rule 46(A)(6)), trans. denied (2004), cert. denied. Also, we disapprove of counsel’s accusation that the State has “stoop[ed]” to “desperate measures … to attempt to demonstrate the reliability and credibility of the confidential informant” mentioned in the affidavit and has “either played word games with this court or simply fabricated facts in its efforts to make an argument.” Reply Br. at 10, 11. Such hyperbolic barbs have no place in an appellate brief. Cnty. Line Towing, Inc. v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 714 N.E.2d 285, 291 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999), trans. denied (2000).

McCollum v. State, 2016 Ind. App. LEXIS 370 (Sept. 30, 2016).

Packingham v. North Carolina is the case of Lester Packingham, a North Carolina man who became a registered sex offender after he was convicted, at the age of 21, of taking indecent liberties with a minor. Six years after Packingham’s conviction, North Carolina enacted a law that made it a felony for registered sex offenders to access a variety of websites, from Facebook to The New York Times and YouTube. Packingham was convicted of violating this law after a police officer saw a Facebook post in which Packingham celebrated, and gave thanks to God for, the dismissal of a traffic ticket. The justices today agreed to review Packingham’s contention that the law violates the First Amendment.

Issue: Whether, under the court’s First Amendment precedents, a law that makes it a felony for any person on the state’s registry of former sex offenders to “access” a wide array of websites – including Facebook, YouTube, and nytimes.com – that enable communication, expression, and the exchange of information among their users, if the site is “know[n]” to allow minors to have accounts, is permissible, both on its face and as applied to petitioner, who was convicted based on a Facebook post in which he celebrated dismissal of a traffic ticket, declaring “God is Good!”

In Esquivel-Quintana v. Lynch, into an area of law called by Prof. Berman, as “crimmigration” – the intersection of immigration and criminal law. The petitioner in the case, Juan Esquivel-Quintana, was a lawful permanent resident of the United States in 2009, when he was charged with violating a California law that makes it a crime to have sexual relations with someone under the age of 18 when the age difference between the two people involved is more than three years; he had had consensual sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend when he was 20 and 21 years old. The federal government then sought to remove Esquivel-Quintana from the United States on the ground that his conviction constituted the “aggravated felony” of “sexual abuse of a minor.” The lower courts agreed with the federal government, but now the Supreme Court will decide.

SCOTUSBlog has an interesting post about the court’s relist practice.  Some of us discussed the relist option when the court was considering the petition in United States v. Sullivan,  74 M.J. 448 (C.A.A.F. 2015) cert. denied.

When last we wrote about the statistics of relists a little over a year ago, it was to report on what was then a new trend: the court’s practice of routinely relisting petitions that are under serious consideration for review at second or subsequent conferences prior to entering orders granting or denying certiorari. The practice is by now an accepted feature of the certiorari process, and at least one relist is generally viewed as a necessary step on the way to a grant of further review. Here, we offer an update on the statistics of relists. Focusing on October Term 2015, we highlight some emerging trends in what appears to be an evolving practice.

Regrettably, on 3 October 2016 the court declined to take Captain Sullivan’s petition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has decided United States v. Hennis, the military’s latest death penalty appeal.

The opinion is 106 pages long, so it will take a little time read.  But what struck me immediately were the statistics.

The case was heard en banc.  However, of 12 judges assigned to court and initially eligible to participate, all but four were disqualified for one reason or another.

In United States v. Lopez, Army Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, but there is no opinion on the Army court website and I don’t see it in Lexis.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has specified an issue for review in this case as follows:

No. 16-0487/AR. U.S. v. Mario I. Lopez. CCA 20140943 [2016 CAAF LEXIS 773].  On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted on the following issue specified by the Court:

This article showed that the vast majority of court-martial sentences are affirmed by AFCCA. On the rare occasion when sentence relief was granted, it was usually not based on factual sufficiency or sentence appropriateness. While there has been some fluctuation in how often AFCCA grants sentence relief, it is minimal and to some extent explained by the influence CAAF has on it.

That’s the conclusion of Maj. Kevin Gotfredson and Capt. Micah Smith in their article, Sentence Relief: At the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals During the Last 10 Years.  43(3) THE REPORTER 21 (2016).  Their research was motivated by public discussion of an “epidemic” number of valid convictions being reversed because of “factual sufficiency.”

See more discussion at my website here.