Articles Posted in Motions Practice

Result – statements suppressed, and will be in the 9th because of Sessoms v. Runnels, No. 08-17790, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 17206 (9th Cir. 2012)  Wow.  What about Davis v. United States?

Davis doesn’t apply because the ambiguous request came BEFORE the accused was advised of his Miranda rights.  So, why isn’t there a similar situation for an accused who makes an ambiguous request prior to Article 31, UCMJ, warnings.

Nonetheless, a critical factual distinction between Sessoms’s statements and those evaluated by the Court in both Davis and  Berghuis  remains: Sessoms made his statements before he was informed of his rights under  Miranda. The Miranda Court held that the coercive atmosphere of interrogation makes it essential for a suspect to be  “given a full and effective warning of his rights at the outset of the interrogation process.” 384 U.S. at 445.  As the Court stressed, when “the police [have] not advised the defendant of his constitutional privilege . . . at the outset of the interrogation,” the suspect’s  “abdication of [that] constitutional privilege—the choice on his part to speak to the police—[is] not made knowingly or competently because of the failure to apprise him of his rights.” Id. at 465 (citing Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)).

The new Mil. R. Evid. may not apply to any offense committed prior to it’s effective date?  Is there an argument that application to an offense prior to the effective date violates the ex-post facto clause.  See Calder v. Bull, 100 U.S. 1 (1798).

Article I, section 9 of the United States Constitution states in relevant part that “[n]o Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed,” and, in its opinion in Calder v. Bull, the Supreme Court recognized four types of laws that cannot be applied retroactively consistent with this Ex Post Facto Clause:

1st. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2d. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3d. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence, in order to convict the offender.

I have for some time been challenging the limitation on the defense opportunity to get depositions.

The usual response is that a deposition isn’t for “good cause” because, according to the Discussion under R.C.M. 704, the witness “will be available at trial.”  I argue that R.C.M. 704 and the discussion are not procedure authorized by the President consistent with his Article 36, UCMJ, powers, but are substantive.  If it is substance, then it is beyond the Article 36 power.

Here is an interesting article on the federal rules which may help with my argument, we’ll see.

The Inspector Rutledge detective stories are a favorite of mine.  To quote an Amazon review:

[T]he books are set in the period just after the First World War, and Inspector Rutledge is a veteran of said conflict. Even more unique, he’s haunted by the ghost of one of his subordinates, a corporal whom Rutledge had to shoot and kill after the man panicked and tried to run away during a battle. The dead man doesn’t blame Rutledge for the incident, not exactly anyway, and serves as a sort of alter ego for Rutledge. You’re never entirely certain whether Hamish MacLeod’s ghost is really there, or merely a figment of Rutledge’s imagination, given that he was horribly scarred psychologically by the war.

Hamish talks to the inspector and is often quicker to spot a problem, an inconsistency, or a wrong – “b’ware” he’ll say, or sometimes just “’ware.”

The “rule of lenity” “requires ambiguous criminal laws to be interpreted in favor of the defendants subjected to them.”

From Levin, Daniel and Stewart, Nathaniel, Wither the Rule of Lenity, Engage, November 16, 2009.  This is a claim or objection I have used from time to time, not always successfully.  Typically I’m using it as an argument regarding application of an R.C.M. or Mil. R. Evid., an argument by analogy I suppose.  Another way to express this would be that where there is an ambiguity the ambiguity should be construed against the writer.  Perhaps there is some hope?

In 2008, in United States v. Santos, the Supreme Court issued a plurality opinion holding that a key term in a federal money laundering statute was ambiguous and applied the rule of lenity to resolve the ambiguity in the defendants’ favor. The plurality involved just such a coalition of conservative and liberal Justices (Justices Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Souter; with Justice Stevens writing separately and agreeing that the rule should apply), raising the question of whether the rule may be entering a period of somewhat greater application…

A change to Fed. R. Crim. Pro. recently adopted reminds me of a motion I file from time to time after the member's have found my client guilty, or at the time the military judge asks if there is anything else before adjourning the court — that's a Griffith motion.  But first here is the change to the federal rule (which if you actually believe in Article 36, UCMJ,[n.1] should be adopted by the military — ha ha).

Rule 29. Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal

(c) After Jury Verdict or Discharge.

(1) Time for a Motion. A defendant may move for a judgment of acquittal, or renew such a motion, within 14 days after a guilty verdict or after the court discharges the jury, whichever is later.

We are all used to losing motions for a finding of not guilty under R.C.M. 917.  But don't give up.  The standard of some evidence is so minimal, and credibility of the evidence is not a factor on a FNG motion.  In United States v. Griffith, the court discussed the authority of the military judge to conduct a post-trial session of court prior to authentication of the record.

The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a decision in United States v. Harris, __ M.J. ___, No. 2008-03  (A. F. Ct. Crim. App. 2009).

IP:  This was a government appeal under Article 62, UCMJ.

Background:  The accused had been prosecuted for use of cocaine.  At trial he testified to an innocent ingestion defense and a friend testified to support his claim.  He was found not guilty.  The accused tested positive again for cocaine shortly after trial.  OSI investigated and the accused's friend dimed him out.  Thus the accused is now being prosecuted for obstruction of justice and perjury which resulted in his acquittal.  The military judge dismissed the charge based on R.C.M. 905(g), the res judicata and collatoral estoppel rule.  Intuitively it would seem right that a person who lied to get acquitted in his trial could be prosecuted later if the lie was exposed and could be proven.  However, it's not that simple.  What ifthe lie wasn't the reason for the acquittal?  What if the members found the accused not guilty because of a serious flaw in the urinalysis collection process?