A year ago an O-4 client was accused of various physical assaults on his son over an eight-year period. He faced two charges with a total of 10 specifications. Prior to trial we were able to identify very helpful information about the credibility of the allegations, despite there being medical evidence and prosecution expert testimony. Prior to trial, one charge was dismissed and we proceeded to a jury trial on one charge and eight specifications. The judge made a ruling close to the end of the prosecution case and the case was delayed several months while to prosecution appealed the judge’s ruling. After the appeals court denied the prosecution appeal we continued the trial. At the end of the prosecution case, the judge entered a finding of not guilty on three of the eight specifications. At issue overall was whether the alleged acts happened, or if there were some minor acts that were exaggerated and the doctrine of parental discipline.
(A motion for a finding of not guilty is usually very easy for the prosecution to overcome because all they have to show is that there is some evidence upon which a rational jury can decide–a very low standard; and the judge isn’t allowed to make credibility evaluations.)
After all the evidence was submitted, instructions were given, and arguments were made–the members deliberated for about 3.5 hours. They returned a finding of guilt as to one of the remaining five specifications. After a sentencing hearing, the jury announced a sentence of “No Punishment.” In the military, this is an approved “sentence” and effectively means that the consequences of a conviction alone are likely considered sufficient to hold the person accountable and promote rehabilitation.