Articles Posted in Habeas Corpus

With the Trump pardons, the question came up, again, whether accepting a Presidential pardon is an acknowledgment of guilt.

For many, Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1925), answered the question in the affirmative. In Burdick, the appellant was offered but declined a pardon. He then refused to testify in a criminal trial. Several conclusions seem to follow from the opinion.

  1. A pardon can be given before conviction and sentence. If correct, this settles the discussion about several Trump pardons issued before the servicemember was tried.

I have commented on this before–post-CAAF habeas corpus, but a new case from the 9th is time for a reminder.

Narula v. Yakubisin (CO, NAVCONBRING Miramar), No. 15-55658 (9th Cir. 17 May 2016).

It is common for the military appellant to think about federal court once their military appeal is complete.  The route to federal court is through a federal habeas corpus proceeding, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 2241.  It is rare to get past a motion to dismiss, let alone win on the merits.

Here is another case where a military prisoner has sought habeas corpus relief, in the Kansas District Court (the Tenth Circuit).

Valois v. Commandant, USDB

The case provides a fascinating discussion of the maze and complexities of DoD and Service regulations the award of good time credit, work abatement, and such, applicable to clients confined at the USDB.

Some may remember United States v. Latorre, No. ACM 34670 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 3 April, 2002), 64 M.J. 80 (C.A.A.F. 2006).

The case had something of a tortured appellate history, ultimately leading to a habeas corpus petition in federal court.  See Background, at p.1.

Like the mythical Phoenix, Latorre sought to get some lift from the U.S. District Ct. for the Northern District of Ohio, in Latorre v. FCI Elkton.[1]

In Ehlers v. Warden, [1] the court sets out the common understanding of federal review of a court-martial.

“[T]he scope of a habeas corpus review of a military conviction is more narrow than a habeas corpus review of a conviction by a civil court.” Swisher v. United States,354 F.2d 472, 475 (8th Cir. 1966). “In military habeas corpus cases, . . . it would be in disregard of the statutory scheme if the federal civil courts failed to take account of the prior proceedings—of the fair determinations of the military tribunals after all military remedies have been exhausted.” Burns, 346 U.S. at 142. Therefore, it is not the duty of the civil courts to re-examine and re-weigh each item of evidence or events which tend to prove or disprove one of the allegations in the applications for habeas corpus. Id. at 144. “It is the limited function of the civil courts to determine whether the military have given fair consideration to each of these claims.” Id. In other words, federal civil courts “must defer to the decision of the military court if that court has given fair consideration to the claims advanced in the habeas petition.”Gilliam v. Bureau of Prisons, No. 99-1222, 2000 WL 268491, at *2 (8th Cir. Mar. 10, 2000) (citing Burns, 346 U.S. at 142-44). “[W]here an issue is adequately briefed and argued before the military courts the issue has been given fair consideration, even if the military court disposes of the issue summarily.” Allen v. U.S. Air Force, 603 F.3d 423, 431 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Roberts v. Callahan, 321 F.3d 994, 997 (10th Cir. 2003)).

The Dist. Ct. finds that, “In his Petition, he asserts that his trial [defense] counsel [2] was ineffective during sentencing because he produced only written statements from mitigation witnesses but would not call them to testify. He claims this led to an unfairly long sentence. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition is denied and this action is dismissed.”  Of interest in the court’s opinion is this observation.

While “full and fair consideration” is the universal standard for military habeas petitions, the Federal Circuits have not developed a uniform analysis to determine what constitutes “full and fair consideration” by the military courts.

After a review of cases the court went on to suggest that:

In Lips [Lips v. Commandant, 907 F.2d 808  (10th Cir. 1993)], the Tenth Circuit applied a four-part test to help determine whether the federal court may consider the merits of a military habeas case. See Lips, 997 F.2d at 811.See also Dodson v. Zelez, 917 F.2d 125, 1252-53 (10th Cir. 1990) (adopting the four-part test from the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in Calley v. Callaway, 519 F.2d 184 (5th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 911 (1976)); see also Roberts v. Callahan, 321 F.3d 994, 997 (10th Cir. 2003) (clarifying that the four-part test is meant to aid courts in applying Burns rather than serve as a separate hurdle to be met before review of a military court decision). In the Tenth Circuit, before reaching the merits of any claim, the federal habeas court must consider four factors:

(1) the asserted error is of substantial constitutional dimension;

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