Articles Posted in Worth the Read

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[.]”

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.

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.”

The ongoing discussion about removing the line officer convening authority from making court-martial decisions is not new, nor are the criticisms of how a military justice process should work.  Check out–

Fred L. Borch, Military Justice in Turmoil: The Ansell-Crowder Controversy of 1917-1920.    ARMY LAWYER, Feb. 2017.

Military Times is reporting–House lawmakers Wednesday overwhelmingly passed new rules making the secret recording or unauthorized sharing of nude photos a crime under military law, in response to the Marine Corps United scandal earlier this year.

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) this week will introduce legislation meant to fight nonconsensual sharing of “private, intimate media” in the military, following outcry over the Marine Corps’ nude-photo-sharing scandal.

The Protecting the Rights of IndiViduals Against Technological Exploitation, or PRIVATE Act, “defines when photo sharing is a crime, which is not clear in current law, and addresses questions related to freedom of speech and intent,” McSally said in a letter seeking cosponsors for the bill.

Chief Judge Erdmann is scheduled to leave the court in July 2017.

At that point, the next judge in line will fleet up to be chief judge.  Interestingly Judges Stucky and Ryan took the oath on the same day for the same term.  However, I’m reliably advised that by statute Judge Stucky will become chief judge.

It appears DoD has sent out a letter to various bar associations soliciting nominations, to be submitted by the end of March.

The SCOTUS might soon give us an idea on the subject of jury nullification in Lee v. United States.

Issue: Whether it is always irrational for a noncitizen defendant with longtime legal resident status and extended familial and business ties to the United States to reject a plea offer notwithstanding strong evidence of guilt when the plea would result in mandatory and permanent deportation.

It is not obvious from the Issue that nullification is central to the case.  But, Ilya Shapiro, The Right to Hope for Jury Nullification, CATO Institute, 9 February 2017, explains.

The New York Times reports:

President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

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