This site is for the trial practitioner (the military lawyer) of military justice, and for the information of U.S. active duty, Guard, and reserve service-members, their spouses and their families. Our goal is to focus on trial practice issues in cases arising under the UCMJ and being tried at court martial. We hasten to add that nothing on this blog should be taken as specific legal advice for a specific client.

Prof. Doug Berman of Sentencing Law & Policy brings this tidbit about SOR in Alaska.

[T]he Alaska Supreme Court in Doe v. Alaska Department of Public Safety, No. 7375 (Alaska June 14, 2019) decided that part of its state’s Sexual Offender Registration Act violates due process. Here is how the majority opinion starts and concludes:

This appeal presentstwo questions concerning theAlaska SexualOffender Registration Act (ASORA). The first is whether ASORA’s registration requirements may be imposed on sex offenders who have moved to the state of Alaska after committing sex offenses elsewhere. The second is whether ASOR Aviolates due process by requiring all sex offenders to register without providing a procedure for them to establish that they do not represent a threat to the public. We conclude that ASORA’s registration requirements can constitutionally be applied to out-of-state offenders. We also conclude that ASORA violates due process, but its defect may be cured by providing a procedure for offenders to establish their non-dangerousness….

An accused in pretrial confinement awaiting trial receives day for day credit toward any sentence to confinement. In the old days, we referred to that as “Allen credit.”

Note, an accused may not automatically get credit for time spent in civilian jail–that needs to be litigated at trial. See United States v. Harris, __ M.J. ___, 2019 CAAF LEXIS 361 (C.A.A.F. 2019).

Which brings us to United States v. Howell, NMCCA, 2019. On appeal, Howell argued that the prosecution wrongly argued to nullify his pretrial confinement credit.

Friend and colleague draws attention to McGee v. McFadden, a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U. S. Supreme Court.

Issues: (1) Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit erred when it found no constitutional error when the state failed to disclose Brady evidence, a letter from a jailhouse snitch, until the post-trial hearing for a motion for a new trial; (2) whether the state and federal courts’ decisions were contrary to Giglio v. United StatesUnited States v. BagleyBrady v. Maryland and Napue v. Illinois when the state failed to disclose material impeachment evidence, a letter from a jailhouse snitch who testified that petitioner confessed to him; and (3) whether the state and federal courts erred in finding that trial counsel rendered effective assistance of counsel when he failed to interview Michael Jones and call him as a witness.

More information, including the petition at SCOTUSBlog here.

A “study” in the effects of confirmation bias, victim-centered investigations, or flawed investigations followed by a flawed judicial process?

N. P. Kirillova and E. N. Lisanyuk, Truth and Legal Argument in Fydor Dostoevsky’s The Karamazov Brothers. 48 Bulletin of Tomsk State Univ., 193-204 (2019).

There were several reasons of the judicial error. The court investigator and the prosecutor investigated only one version of the murder, which seemed obvious to them but in fact was false, and they made no attempt to verify the defendant’s ver-sion, which in fact was true. Along with the prosecutor’s erroneous bias against Dmitry Karamazov, there were many circumstantial evidences pointing to him guilty, which led to the fallacious decision of the juries.

The very foundation of what we do depends on trust, and trust depends on the treatment of all Soldiers with dignity and respect by fellow Soldiers and leaders. Without this, our profession is placed in jeopardy, our readiness suffers, and our mission success is at risk.

The sentiment conveyed above is enduring; it epitomizes core Army values. In an age where electronic communication is commonplace, it is critical to ensure that dignity and respect is maintained offline and online. A harmful communication sent from behind a screen does not trivialize the behavior; the consequences of carrying out acts which flout Army values are the same regardless of the domain—cyber or face-to-face—in which those acts occur.

“It is relatively easy to hurt others when their suffering is not visible and when causal actions are physically and temporally remote from their effects.”This is a key reason why Army leaders need to understand how to manage online misconduct. To carry out their responsibilities, leaders need unambiguous and comprehensive regulatory tools at their disposal which they can apply consistently and confidently.

The Army TJAGSA Criminal Law Deskbook is now online.

The cover notes that the DB “reflects changes” to the MJA effective 1 January 2019. The .pdf file is bookmarked.

Interestingly, Part B of the Introduction has a justification for a separate military justice system. They say there is a need for speedy trial–a need not necessarily reflected in the speed of investigations and trials–ask anyone who does trials on a regular basis. Part C.2., reflects the commander-centric need for a military justice decision-making process.

The harmful effects of law enforcement tunnel vision do not end with wrongful convictions. Tunnel vision also undermines community trust in the police and damages an already fraught relationship.

In a sexual assault case, real victims are actually harmed when false allegations are buttressed by so-called “victim-centric” investigations. When false reports are “substantiated” others watching become cynical about sexual assault allegations in general. When people do not trust the system and the witnesses produced then it becomes likely they will apply a bias against sexual assault victims.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-0523-cooperating-witnesses-20190522-story.html?fbclid=IwAR1bK1SV2c8HBlZIFP1Nogdm7k_Y-ZRC5Nd1uKxClLhJ-G03f77FwAHN9Qo

Like it or not, consistent or not consistent with long-held notions of justice, a military member accused of a sexual assault is presumed guilty.

Sure command and others will say you are going to get a fair hearing and trial, but that’s not reality.

Over 100 Law Professors, Others Call on DOJ to Stop Junk-Science ‘Victim-Centered’ Methods

When a party objects to testimony or documents they should state “I object” and cite the evidence rule or principle and nothing else. You may be tempted, but don’t make a speaking objection.

United States v. Gurfein, NMCCA 2019, is an example of why speaking objections are improper and can cause problems. I have had trial cases where I’ve had to cut trial counsel off from making a speaking objection in front of members. I have appellate cases where the counsel and military judge engaged in a discussion of the objection (sometimes lengthy and detailed) in front of the members–this is improper.

Defense counsel–shut trial counsel down when they make speaking objections in front of members. I know judges want to save time and not inconvenience members, but you have a client who may be adversely affected by what they hear.