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.

Appellant argues his trial defense team was ineffective. Appellant’s argument involves mistaken identity, fraternal betrayal, technological mystery, and a healthy dose of bad luck. The argument is ambitious and engaging, it is also wrong.

United States v. Carter, ACCA 2019.

A case to look out for.

United States v. Frost, No. 18-0362/AR

Issue: Whether the military judge erred in admitting hearsay statements as prior consistent statements under Mil.R.Evid. 801(d)(1)(B)(i) where the defense theory posited the improper influence or motive preceded the allegedly consistent statements.

Here is a link to a few cases of interest that were provided me last week at the 49th VACLE Criminal Law seminar.

Virginia is in the Fourth Circuit which, I believe, has a reputation as slightly conservative leaning.

United States v. Abdallah, ___ F.3d___ (4th Cir. 18 December 2018).  Code 45 Alumni and friend Jim Wynn is one of the panel members.  This case involves two issues: invocation of the right to silence and the all-important Brady issue.

Appellant challenges the factual sufficiency of his conviction for sexually assaulting MB. We have reviewed the evidence, which includes a video-recording of

appellant’s sexual encounter with MB. The video-recording demonstrates that MB repeatedly gave audible consent—or at least what reasonably appears to be audible consent—to sexual intercourse with appellant. Considering this evidence, we are not personally convinced that MB was incapable of consenting to the sexual intercourse.

The footnote to this finding states:

Thanks to Prof. Berman at Sentencing Law 7 Policy who directs us to Murray, Brian, Are Collateral Consequences Deserved? (January 29, 2019). Available at SSRN:

I have a standard sex offender registration motion that I use in all cases in which a sex offense is charged and if convicted the client will have to register as a sex offender.

Few appellate courts have been willing to agree that SOR is a punishment and hold that to be a collateral consequence.  Some state supreme courts have held new amendments to their state law are “punishment” for ex post facto analysis, but they are few.  Despite that, I continue to argue that SOR is more than a collateral consequence.  As the second part of my motion, I argue admissibility of SOR as “evidence” under the principles for giving punishment, on which the members are instructed: particularly rehabilitation and deterrence.

On appeal, Appellant asserts three assignments of error: (1) whether Appellant is entitled to sentence relief due to the conditions of her post-trial confinement; (2) whether Appellant is entitled to relief because the Staff Judge Advocate’s Recommendation (SJAR) failed to address alleged legal errors; and (3) whether the approved sentence is unduly harsh as compared to sentences in similar cases. We specified two additional issues: (1) whether trial defense counsel incorrectly stated in the clemency submission the effect of a particular term in the PTA and (2) whether Appellant is entitled to new post-trial processing in light of United States v. Addison, 75 M.J. 405 (C.A.A.F. 2016) (mem.), either because the addendum to the SJAR did not correct an error in trial defense counsel’s clemency submission regarding the particular term in the PTA or because the SJAR misadvised the convening authority concerning the PTA. We find that there was no meeting of the minds concerning the term in the PTA and thus set aside the findings and the sentence.

United States v. Rush, (A. F. Ct. Crim. App. January 2019).

Advising a client on SOR is difficult.  They want specific answers and often you can’t give them more than general advice.  There are several points I try to make with clients.

Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), specifically includes certain Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) convictions in its definition of “sex offense.”

Department of Defense Instruction 1325.07 contains the specific list of UCMJ convictions that require registration under SORNA1. Jurisdictions must ensure that all of the UCMJ convictions listed in DOD Instruction 1325.07 are included in their sex offender registration schemes.