Articles Posted in Worth the Read

The annual cost of detaining federal prisoners before trial and after sentencing is significantly higher than the cost of supervision in the community, according to figures compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

The annual cost of detaining federal prisoners before trial and after sentencing is significantly higher than the cost of supervision in the community, according to figures compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

In fiscal year 2016, detaining an offender before trial and then incarcerating him post-conviction was roughly eight times more costly than supervising an offender in the community. Placing an offender in a residential reentry center was about seven times more costly than supervision.

The DoD Joint Service Committee on Military Justice has some new “publications” on its website.  But more importantly, there are a number of proposed changes not yet on their site (but which are available on CAAFLog).

The military does not have Alford pleas.

In an Alford Plea, the criminal defendant does not admit the act but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge. The court will pronounce the defendant guilty. The defendant may plead guilty yet not admit all the facts that comprise the crime. An Alford plea allows the defendant to plead guilty even while unable or unwilling to admit guilt. One example is a situation where the defendant has no recollection of the pertinent events due to intoxication or amnesia. A defendant making an Alford plea maintains his innocence of the offense charged. One reason for making such a plea may be to avoid being convicted on a more serious charge. Acceptance of an Alford plea is in the court’s discretion.

The military requires a person to plead not guilty or, if they plead guilty, they must engage in a detailed discussion on the record with the military judge.  In that discussion, the person must give facts supporting the charge, agree that they committed the offense, and waive several constitutional rights.  See United States v. Care, 18 C.M.A. 535, 40 C.M.R. 247 (1969); United States v. Hayes, 70 M.J. 454 (C.A.A.F. 2011).

I am a fan of this website as a resource to find ways to argue on behalf of a client, just as I am a fan of restorative justice.

The CCRC is pleased to announce the launch of its Compilation of Federal Collateral Consequences (CFCC), a searchable online database of the restrictions and disqualifications imposed by federal statutes and regulations because of an individual’s criminal record. Included in the CFCC are laws authorizing or requiring criminal background checks as a condition of accessing specific federal benefits or opportunities.

Black sailors more likely than white sailors to be referred to court-martial, report says

Brock Vergakis, The Virginian-Pilot, 7 June 2017.  The VP summarizes:

Black sailors were 40 percent more likely than white sailors to be referred to a court-martial over a two-year period examined by an advocacy group that focuses on military justice. . . .

LtCol CT called the possibility that defense counsel might be asking potential witnesses about evidence governed by MIL. R. EVID. 412 and 513 “gross and cruel.”  All this caused Capt X (the defense counsel) to audibly sob at counsel table, and she was unable to continue.

Unfortunately, it appears that the words and actions of the trial counsel (prosecutor) caused the defense counsel to make “several decisions about the appellant’s representation that were against her client’s interest, against the advice of the DHQE, and consistent with a concern for her and her husband’s situation.”

Sadly, today we report the decision in United States v. Hale, decided 31 May 2017, by the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.  Of seven assignments of error raised on appeal, the court reversed on this issue:  “III. That the appellant received ineffective assistance from his trial defense counsel, who were laboring under a conflict of interest[.]”

https://globalmjreform.blogspot.com/2017/06/targeting-and-law-of-war.html

Reposting a new publication for judge advocates supporting investigations into law of war violations.  In particular, it relates to targeting decisions and the aftermath.  There are specific points to assist in evaluating criminal responsibility under the UCMJ.

As an investigative tool, DNA has been a powerful weapon in identifying or confirming who committed a crime.  But the value of DNA evidence is overshadowed by regular stories of corruption, incompetence, and flawed interpretation.  It’s, for this reason, I never accept the DNA results as golden for the prosecution in a contested case.

Here’s another story.  http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/hundreds-of-south-florida-cases-in-doubt-over-dna-testing-problems-9383687

Two linked issues are driving the ongoing saga. The first came to light last summer, when an investigation found problems with how the Broward Sheriff’s Office crime laboratory was interpreting complex samples, which contain DNA from more than one person. With its accreditation threatened, the lab last July ceased reporting those complex samples and instead began sending them to outside experts.

In United States v. Battles, No. 20140399 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 31 May 2017), the court asked:

Where in the World is Captain Danenberger?

That he is named in the court opinion will tell the lawyer that this is a bad story.  “After conclusion of appellant’s trial, an embarrassing and unnecessary sideshow unfolded. The central figure in this drama is PFC LL’s SVC—Captain (CPT) John Danenberger. While we will explain in more depth, CPT Danenberger essentially mislead various individuals about his whereabouts, missed a court hearing, and then tried to deflect blame by breaching his duties to his client by implying his client had been untruthful in her testimony. While CPT Danenberger’s lack of candor was the fuel for this conflagration and his breach of professional standards was the spark that set it ablaze, the resulting fire likely should have been quickly extinguished. Instead, a multi-month drama unfolded.”