Articles Tagged with UCMJ

Here is an interesting case from the Tenth, about cross-examination of a witness about a prior judicial “finding” that the witness was not credible — United States v. Woodard.

The court states this basic principle from its own jurisprudence:

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right of a defendant to “be confronted with the witnesses against him.”  U.S. Const. amend. VI.  One of the primary interests secured by the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause is the right of cross-examination.  Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 315 (1974).  This is the“principal means by which the believability of a witness and the truth of his testimony are tested.”  Id. at 316.  A violation of this constitutional right occurs when “the defendant is prohibited from engaging in otherwise appropriate cross-examination that, as a result, precludes him from eliciting information from which jurors could draw vital inferences in his favor.”  United States v. Montelongo, 420 F.3d 1169, 1175 (10th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted).  Stated differently, “‘a defendant’s right to confrontation may be violated if the trial court precludes an entire relevant area of cross-examination.’”  Id. (quoting Parker v. Scott, 349 F.3d 1302, 1316 (10th Cir. 2005)).

Military (Federal) Rule of Evidence 803(3) provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for

A statement of the declarant’s then-existing state of mind (such as motive, intent, or plan) or emotional, sensory, or physical condition (such as mental feeling, pain, or bodily health), but not including a statement of memory or belief to prove the fact remembered or believed unless it relates to the validity or terms of the declarant’s will.

While the rule appears to allow a broad exception for hearsay, the Supreme Court of VA points out the narrowing language still has effect.*

The Inspector Rutledge detective stories are a favorite of mine.  To quote an Amazon review:

[T]he books are set in the period just after the First World War, and Inspector Rutledge is a veteran of said conflict. Even more unique, he’s haunted by the ghost of one of his subordinates, a corporal whom Rutledge had to shoot and kill after the man panicked and tried to run away during a battle. The dead man doesn’t blame Rutledge for the incident, not exactly anyway, and serves as a sort of alter ego for Rutledge. You’re never entirely certain whether Hamish MacLeod’s ghost is really there, or merely a figment of Rutledge’s imagination, given that he was horribly scarred psychologically by the war.

Hamish talks to the inspector and is often quicker to spot a problem, an inconsistency, or a wrong – “b’ware” he’ll say, or sometimes just “’ware.”

From my very first opinion on this Court, I have consistently concluded that Mil.R.Evid. 410 must be applied broadly to be consistent with its purpose. United States v. Barunas, 23 M.J. 71, 75-76 (CMA 1986). See also Fed.R.Evid. 410. Speaking for the Court in Barunas, I said:

The general purpose of Mil.R.Evid. 410 and its federal civilian counterpart, Fed.R.Evid. 410, is to encourage the flow of information during the plea-bargaining process and the resolution of criminal charges without "full-scale" trials. See United States v. Grant, 622 F.2d [308,] at 313 [(8th Cir. Ark. 1980)]; see generally Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 260-61, 92 S. Ct. 495, 497-98, 30 L. Ed. 2d 427 (1971). An excessively formalistic or technical approach to this rule may undermine these policy concerns in the long run. United States v. Herman, 544 F.2d [791,] at 797 [(5th Cir. Fla. 1977)].See generally Wright and Graham, Federal Practice and Procedure: Evidence § 5345 (1980). A failure to recognize and enforce the military expansion of this rule may have the same effect.  23 M.J. at 76.

United States v. Anderson, 55 M.J. 182 (C.A.A.F. 2001)(Sullivan, J., concurring).

I think it fair to consider Mil. R. Evid. 410 a form of privilege although not found in the 500 series of rules.  Fourthamendment.com notes an interesting case about application of Fed. R. Evid. 410.  In reading the case it appears the federal courts may take a more restrictive view of the rule compared to application of Mil. R. Evid. 410.

Courtesy of federalevidence here is their list of potential significant evidence issues affecting criminal cases this coming year.

  1. Supreme Court Watch: Williams v. Illinois: Confrontation Clause – Pending Decisions
  2. Confrontation Clause: More Notice and Demand Rules?
  3. Supreme Court Watch Open Issue: Confrontation Clause – Resolving An Open Issue on the Scope Of Dying Declarations
  4. Circuit Split: Waiving An Objection to a Stipulation Under the Confrontation Clause
  5. Circuit Split: Admission Of Pre-Miranda Silence
  6. Circuit Split: Whether the Rule of Completeness Allows Inadmissible Evidence to be Admitted?
  7. More Judicial Criticism of the “Inextricable Intertwinement" Theory
  8. Rule Amendments: “Restyling” Federal Rules of Evidence
  9. Pending Rule Amendment: FRE 803(10) – Absence of Public Record
  10. Cameras In The Courtroom: Increasing Requests for Televising Supreme Court Proceedings

On item 8., which will depend on how the President “adopts” the restyling.  Interesting that there may be issues surrounding implementation of the restyled rules.

The FRE were “restyled” by amendments effective December 1, 2011. The amendments were intended to make the rules easier to use and were not intended to result in substantive changes. As the restyled rules are applied, one question will be whether language differences in the new version result over time in substantive modifications.

NMCCA has decided United States v. Owens.

The appellant asserts that the attorney-client relationship with his detailed trial defense counsel was terminated without good cause, leaving the appellant legally and factually without post-trial representation.  The basis for the appellant’s claim is that substitute counsel failed to establish an attorney-client relationship with the appellant prior to receipt of the staff judge advocate’s recommendation (SJAR).

The court makes clear in footnote 3, that:

To stay out of trouble.

To work hard for you clients.

Labor Department employment statistics released Friday show that young veterans continue to have serious and growing problems finding work in a tight job market, while older veterans are doing better than the general population.

Waive it or raise it at work – and at a court-martial under the UCMJ.

Judge Ed Carnes for the Eleventh Circuit in United States v. Rodriguez, No. 08-16696, Dec. 22, 2010:

This case poses the question of whether there is a vindictive judge or cowardly counsel exception to the contemporaneous objection rule. Unless there is such an exception, the only issue that the appellant is pressing on appeal is barred for failure to object because she cannot meet the requirements of the plain error rule. Disagreeing with the Second Circuit, we hold that the possibility a judge may be unhappy with an objection does not excuse the failure to make it.

Takepart notes:

Of course, Robinson didn’t begin his fight for equal rights overnight. While enlisted, Robinson was court-martialed for refusing to sit at the back of the bus — eleven years before Rosa Parks. Faced with multiple offenses, including public drunkenness (even though Robinson did not drink), the UCLA standout was acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury.

American Heritage Magazine has this introduction to the charges (and a fairly decent history of the case):