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Articles Posted in Pretrial agreements
Plea agreement waivers
Navy Times reports the NMCCA decision in United States v. Saugen. “Ensign Joseph P. Saugen, 26, remains in San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to two specifications of possessing child pornography and another for distributing the illicit videos.”
In Saugen, the Appellant executed a pretrial agreement. One of the standard terms in that agreement was,
to waive all motions except those that are otherwise nonwaivable pursuant to [RULE FOR COURTS-MARTIAL] 705(c)(1)(B). I have not been compelled to waive my right to due process, the right to challenge the jurisdiction of the court-martial, the right to a speedy trial, the right to raise the issue of unlawful command influence, or any other motion that cannot be waived. I have no motions to bring and I am not aware of any motion that was waived pursuant to this provision. 
Pretrial agreement terms
In general a court-martial accused can waive most rights and privileges in a pretrial agreement. A common term where there are multiple accuseds (drug or sexual assault cases for example) is an agreement to testify truthfully in another court-martial. But,
Rule for Courts-Martial (R.C.M.) 705(c)(1) expressly prohibits terms or conditions of a PTA that are not voluntary or that deprive an accused of certain rights. “The interpretation of a pretrial agreement is a question of law, which is reviewed under a de novo standard.” United States v. Acevedo, 50 M.J. 169 172 (C.A.A.F. 1999).
The Terlap sentencing issue
United States v. Campbell, decided by the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals (9/17), presents a current look at United States v. Terlap and proper sentencing evidence. The Appellant “that the military judge admitted improper evidence in aggravation and testimony contradictory to the stipulation of fact.”
During presentencing testimony, the military judge asked BI, “You never moved away or pushed away from the hand; it stopped voluntarily?” (R. at 129.) She answered, “I did push his hand away.” (Id.) During closing argument, defense counsel requested that the military judge not consider that testimony, as it conflicted with the stipulation of fact.
The CGCCA decided that the information did not contradict the stipulation of fact and was, likely, more of the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense to which the appellant pleaded guilty.
WorthTheRead-complexities of good time credit
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.
Worth your read-pretrial agreements
Military law and practice requires that any pretrial agreement discussions be conducted between the defense, the prosecutors, and the convening authority. The military judge is not allowed to be involved. The military judge’s involvement is during trial when she reviews a PTA with the accused to ensure it is all transparent and that it’s terms do not offend law or significant policy considerations. Historically, courts have been reluctant to permit agreements to incorporate terms that deprive an accused of basic fundamental rights. See e.g., United States v. Callahan, 22 C.M.R. 443 (A.B.R. 1956); United States v. Cummings, 38 C.M.R. 174, 177 (C.M.A. 1968); and United States v. Schmeltz, 1 M.J. 8 (C.M.A. 1975). R.C.M. 705 specifically lists examples of permissible and impermissible terms in a pretrial agreement.
- The Court of Military Appeals in United States v. Schaffer, 12 M.J. 425, 428 (C.M.A. 1982) opened the door to non-traditional bargained for PTA provisions when it expressly acknowledged a judicial willingness to accept more complex PTAs, especially when the proposed term is proposed by the accused and his defense counsel. For some odd terms the courts don’t like:
- An agreement providing for a reduction of the accomplice’s confinement sentence by one year for each occasion that the accomplice testified against his co-accused. The court in United States v. Scoles, 33 C.M.R. 226, 232 (C.M.A. 1963) held that the agreement “offered an almost irresistible temptation to a confessedly guilty party to testify falsely in order to escape the adjudged consequences of his own misconduct.”
Can victims limit prosecutorial discretion
The military SVC programs have been ongoing for a little while. So some signs of the good and bad are starting to show. It is too early to tell if the issues are start-up issues or long term fixes, or cavitations or super-cavitations. One aspect to be expected and not wholly rejected is alleged victims having more of a say in what happens in a case. But how far can a victim and the SVC go in dictating what happens.
My good friend Dew_Process brought an Indiana professional discipline case to my attention and it is worth noting. The issue for the prosecutor In re Flatt-Moore, No. 30S00-0911-DI-535 (Ind. January 12, 2012), was an allegation that she surrendered her discretion as a prosecutor during pretrial negotiations, to the victims money demands. The chief prosecutor had an established policy that they would not agree to a pretrial agreement unless both the police and victims agreed.
During a disciplinary hearing the IO found that the policy did not require or give the victim the right to dictate any restitution amount. The IO found that the prosecutor had engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. That is found in Rule 8.4(d) of the Indiana rules of professionalism. The military Services follow the ABA Model Rules of professionalism, as published in Service regulations. The ABA rule 8.4(d) is the same as that in Indiana. The Indiana court found the prosecutor had erred and violated the rule, and the issued a public opinion.