Continuing problems of MRE 413 and 414

You’ll remember Hills, Hukill, and Guardado.

Basically, there are problems when the prosecution tries to invoke MRE 413 or 414 when all of the alleged events are charged.  The result has been many cases being dismissed and sent for retrial or alternative actions.  But, as reflected below, not all cases have a positive result for the appellant.

No. 18-0107/AR. U.S. v. Jameson T. Hazelbower. CCA 20150335. On consideration of the granted issue, 77 M.J. 273 (C.A.A.F. 2018), the judgment of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, United States v. Hazelbower, No. 20150335 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Nov. 22, 2017) (unpublished), and the judgment of this Court in United States v. Guardado, 77 M.J. 90 (C.A.A.F. 2017), we conclude that the military judge’s erroneous use of charged misconduct for propensity purposes was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, for “there [i]s no reasonable possibility that the error contributed to [Appellant]’s verdict.” United States v. Hukill, 76 M.J. 219, 222 (C.A.A.F. 2017) (citation omitted). In the instant case, the victims’ accounts were corroborated by a wealth of independent supporting evidence, including (but not limited to) admissions of rape, incriminating text and Skype messages, and the exchange of nude photographs. Given the overwhelming evidence of Appellant’s guilt, we are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant was convicted on the strength of the evidence alone. Guardado77 M.J. at 94. Therefore, it is ordered that the judgment of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.

To me, this shows the obvious efficiency, effectiveness, and rightness of the Federal Rules Committee arguments against MRE 413 and MRE 414 when first adopted.  If you have a really good case, why corrupt it with getting a conviction based on prejudice, on emotion, on alleged predisposition.

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