The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has decided United States v. Hennis, the military’s latest death penalty appeal.
The opinion is 106 pages long, so it will take a little time read. But what struck me immediately were the statistics.
The case was heard en banc. However, of 12 judges assigned to court and initially eligible to participate, all but four were disqualified for one reason or another.
That left four judges to hear this appeal.
However, of the remaining four, Colonel James Wilson Herring, Jr., USA, Colonel Larss G. Celtnieks, USA, Lieutenant Colonel Paulette Vance Burton, USA, is a member of that group. His status as a military judge is being challenged, and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has taken up the issue in United States v. Dalmazzi, an Air Force case, just substitute Herring or Celtnieks, Burton for Mitchell. (I couldn’t find an opinion online from ACCA). The trailer-park is forming (I have a couple of cases with the issue).
No. 16-0651/AF. U.S. v. Nicole A. Dalmazzi. CCA 38808. On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted on the following issues.
WHETHER UNITED STATES COURT OF MILITARY COMMISSION REVIEW JUDGE, MARTIN T. MITCHELL, IS STATUTORILY AUTHORIZED TO SIT AS ONE OF THE AIR FORCE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS JUDGES ON THE PANEL THAT DECIDED APPELLANT’S CASE.
WHETHER JUDGE MARTIN T. MITCHELL’S SERVICE ON BOTH THE AIR FORCE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS AND THE UNITED STATES COURT OF MILITARY COMMISSION REVIEW VIOLATES THE APPOINTMENTS CLAUSE GIVEN HIS STATUS AS A SUPERIOR OFFICER ON THE UNITED STATES COURT OF MILITARY COMMISSION REVIEW.
Hennis raised 49 assignments of error during his appeal.
Hennis himself raised an unstated number of issues under United States v. Grostefon.
The court also specified three issues.
Bottom line, NONE of the issues merit relief, although some are discussed “in detail.”