Articles Posted in Worth the Read

From time to time I bring attention to a civilian case that may be of interest to practitioners. Mostly these are post-CAAF cases arising from the USDB. So today I have Coleman v. Commandant., decided 22 November 2019, in the USDC Kansas.

This matter is a pro se petition for habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Because Petitioner is confined at the United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, this matter was transferred to this Court from the District of North Dakota. Petitioner seeks to set aside his 2012 conviction by general court-martial, based on the holdings in United States v. Hills, 75 M.J. 350 (C.A.A.F. 2016) and United States v. Hukill, 76 M.J. 219 (C.A.A.F. 2017).

Petitioner, a former active duty member of the United States Air Force, was tried in September 2012 by general court-martial at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Contrary to his pleas, Petitioner was convicted of one specification of rape, three specifications of aggravated sexual assault, and one specification of forcible sodomy, in violation of Articles 120 and 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”), 10 U.S.C. §§ 920, 925. Petitioner was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for twelve years, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a reduction to the grade of E-1. On March 1, 2013, the convening authority approved the sentence.

American Prosecutors’ Powers and Obligations  in the Era of Plea Bargaining.  Darryl K. Brown [University of Virginia School of Law].
I. Introduction
American prosecutors are generally understood to have a lot of power, and that power is often the subject of criticism. But whether American prosecutors’ power is problematic depends on the structure and operation of other components of the criminal justice system the code defining substantive offenses, the capacity and competency of police and investigative agencies, the law of sentencing, the typical mode of adjudication (trials or pleas), prison capacity, and funding levels for enforcement officials and courts.Prosecutors are empowered by some of these other actors and institutions, and they are constrained by others. Positive law gives prosecutors considerable power, especially by granting broad charging discretion, but it also limits that power in a couple of significant respects. Moreover, the mix of prosecutors’ powers, and potential for abuse of power,varies across American jurisdictions. Federal prosecutors are limited in important ways that state prosecutors are not, especially as to plea bargaining. Likewise, state prosecutors face constraints that their federal counterparts do not, particularly as to charging discretion. Whether prosecutor power is problematic depends on other components of the criminal justice system in which that power is exercised. In turn, the flaws of American criminal justice, in turn, arise as much from institutional arrangements that are ill-suited for particular prosecutorial powers as they do from those powers per se.

If you, like me and some of my colleagues, have personal experiences from military clients who commit, get stopped in the act, or consider suicide while pending court-martial, you are facing a difficult challenge.

My first was a client I was representing on appeal who hung himself in the SHU at the USDB. Sadly, I’d gotten the Dubay judge’s findings and conclusion which lead me to think he was getting a new trial. He died not knowing that. I’d written to him telling him what I thought would be good news. The mail room allegedly refused to give him that letter which lead to a chain of events ending with him in the SHU.

We all have to be sensitive to clients in distress. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the client is experiencing the “normal” stresses of being in trouble.

Rossmo, Kim and Pollock, Joycelyn, Confirmation Bias and Other Systemic Causes of Wrongful Convictions: A Sentinel Events Perspective (June 28, 2019). Northeastern University Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3413922.

Tokson, Matthew J., The Emerging Principles of Fourth Amendment Privacy (July 23, 2019). George Washington Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3425321

Wexler, Rebecca, Evidence in the Age of Privacy: Access to Data in the Criminal Justice System (July 29, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3428607 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3428607

 

Going through some old files I came across the

Excerpts from a letter which the Powell Committee recommended The Judge Advocate General of the Army send to officers newly appointed as general court-martial convening authorities. (Committee on the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Good Order and Discipline in the Army: Report to Honorable Wilber M. Bruckner, Secretary to the Army, 17–21 (18 Jan 1960)).

Should the TJAGs also send a “letter to self?”

 

Confirmation Bias and Other Systemic Causes of Wrongful Convictions: A Sentinel Events Perspective,

By D. Kim Rossmo and Joycelyn M. Pollock.

Their study suggests that 37% of wrongful convictions result from confirmation bias.

Once again it is the duty of the defense counsel to police the prosecutors not for the prosecutors to police themselves. That is one of the conclusions from the new decision—United States v. Voorhees,

https://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/newcaaf/opinions/2018OctTerm/180372.pdf,

just decided by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Prof. Doug Berman of Sentencing Law & Policy brings this tidbit about SOR in Alaska.

[T]he Alaska Supreme Court in Doe v. Alaska Department of Public Safety, No. 7375 (Alaska June 14, 2019) decided that part of its state’s Sexual Offender Registration Act violates due process. Here is how the majority opinion starts and concludes:

This appeal presentstwo questions concerning theAlaska SexualOffender Registration Act (ASORA). The first is whether ASORA’s registration requirements may be imposed on sex offenders who have moved to the state of Alaska after committing sex offenses elsewhere. The second is whether ASOR Aviolates due process by requiring all sex offenders to register without providing a procedure for them to establish that they do not represent a threat to the public. We conclude that ASORA’s registration requirements can constitutionally be applied to out-of-state offenders. We also conclude that ASORA violates due process, but its defect may be cured by providing a procedure for offenders to establish their non-dangerousness….

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