NMCCA has issued an opinion in United States v. Saracoglu. NMCCA specified the issue. The related to the MJ’s denial of a UCI motion based on:
Captain (Capt) Hillary, Headquarters and Service (H&S) Company Commander for Weapons Field Training Battalion, held a Friday morning formation. The formation included two platoons of enlisted Marines, including the appellant, and a few officers. Formations of this sort were held every Friday morning as a means of disseminating information. At this particular formation, Capt Hillary read a newspaper article from the San Diego Union Tribune that discussed the recent court-martial of Private Bradley, a member of H&S company. The article stated that Private Bradley had pled guilty to “stealing truckloads of spent ammunition casings from the base firing range where he worked and selling them as scrap metal, raking in nearly $31,000.” After reporting the sentence awarded, the article went on to state that Bradley’s “alleged accomplice, Pvt. Anthony Saracoglu, is awaiting trial.”
Private Saracoglu was in the formation.
The NMCCA found no actual command influence, but did find the appearance of command influence.
Having found apparent unlawful command influence, we must consider its impact on the proceedings. The appearance of unlawful command influence provides a presumption of prejudice, but the presumption is rebuttable. In the case at hand, we find that the presumption is rebutted.