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.
I’ve been told more than once that a person doesn’t make a false allegation of rape because they have been rejected by someone they are romantically interested in. Such denials a batguano crazy. Take this as an example.
Following the verdict, Joanne Jakymec, chief Crown prosecutor for Wessex said: “Rebecca Palmer indulged in consensual sexual activity with the victim, but on being rejected by him embarked on a malicious campaign which led to him being arrested on more than one occasion and held in custody for periods of time.
From the Swindon Advertiser.
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.
As I have argued, for some time in courts-martial, sex offender registration is effectively a punishment in today’s society–despite what legislators and courts say. Well, now we have an interesting decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a 3-1 decision, about ex post facto changes to SOR.
[T]he provisions of the state’s sex offender registration law (SORNA) [are] unconstitutional under the state and federal constitutions, according to the majority in Commonwealth v. Muniz held that 1) SORNA’s registration provisions constitute punishment notwithstanding the General Assembly’s identification of the provisions as nonpunitive; 2) retroactive application of SORNA’s registration provisions violates the federal ex post facto clause; and 3) retroactive application of SORNA’s registration provisions also violates the ex post facto clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The bottom line here for me is that various courts are now holding that SOR is punitive. I argue that as the reason an accused should be able to raise SOR requirements in sentencing and that the members should not be given a “Talkington” instruction.
In United States v. Hills, 75 M.J. 350 (C.A.A.F. 2016), the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces decided that–
[B]ecause the evidence of the charged sexual misconduct was already admissible in order to prove the offenses at issue, the application of Military Rule of Evidence (M.R.E.) 413 — a rule of admissibility for evidence that would otherwise not be admissible — was error. Neither the text of M.R.E. 413 nor the legislative history of its federal counterpart suggests that the rule was intended to permit the government to show propensity by relying on the very acts the government needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in the same case.
M.R.E. 413 otherwise allows the prosecution to introduce evidence of other similar sexual offenses to “prove” a pattern of sexually assaultive behavior. It’s profile evidence (and it’s wrong, but the law allows it). Hills was a members case! As a consequence, the trial and lower appellate courts were limiting Hills to members cases only and refused to apply Hills to judge alone cases–until–
So goes the post of Rep. Ratcliffe (R-TX).
Similarly, the second portion of my bill addresses enhanced sentences for individuals with prior sex offenses. Our child exploitation laws consistently call for higher sentences when a defendant has a prior conviction for federal or state sex offenses. However, these sentencing provisions do not consistently include all similar sex offense convictions that arise under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). My bill amends those federal child exploitation laws to include all similar child sexual exploitation offenses under the UCMJ in the recidivist provisions, as appropriate.
A Facebook post about military sexual assault training:
“There’s no need to try to understand why sexual assaults are up 550% in the Military. All women have no ability to think after one drink and are not responsible for their actions but a Male soldier is responsible for his actions with one drink. What an insult to women everywhere!! ”
Instructor: “if you sleep with your wife after she’s been drinking you actually just raped her because she is too incapacitated to consent”
“We thus readily conclude that ex parte communications between a military judge and an SVC are generally proscribed.”
Yes, inexplicably, it was necessary for the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) to decide such an issue, as part of deciding what impact, if any, SVC’s ex parte communications had in a trial–a chilling thought.
In United States v. Turner, (an Air Force case) the SVC decided to have a little confab with the military judge before trial, allegedly about administrative matters–until you read the facts.