Air Force Reservist has two successful appeals of his court-martial convictions based on jurisdiction.
In mid February, I posted a blog about the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) case U.S. v. Morita. This case is about a reserve Lieutenant Colonel who was found guilty of forging his signature on more than 100 documents, allowing him to collect money that he was not entitled to. In this case, AFCCA found that the government lacked jurisdiction over a large number of the offenses under Article 2(a) of the U.C.M.J. Under Article 2(a), a reservist can only be subject to a court-martial if the government shows that he or she was serving on inactive duty training or was otherwise serving on active duty during the time of the offense. The AFCCA overturned many of LTC Morita’s court-martial convictions based on jurisdiction and reassessed his sentence. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) reviewed this case. CAAF overturned even more of LTC Morita’s court-martial convictions based on jurisdiction. CAAF looked at whether the Air Force had jurisdiction over LTC Morita during the times that he forged his own reserve orders placing himself on active duty or inactive duty training. CAAF held that the Air Force did not have personal jurisdiction over LTC Morita during these times. CAAF held that “a forged order to active duty has no legal effect on the duty of the reservist to report to active duty.” Recognizing that be placed on active duty requires a lawful order, CAAF held “a forgery is the antithesis of a lawful order.” CAAF then remanded the case back to the AFCCA for another reassessment or hearing. This case demonstrates that being found guilty at a court-martial does not mean your defense is over. The military appellate courts are there to review legal issues from your court-martial and I am here to help you determine what issues are ripe for review. If you are facing a court-martial or would like to appeal your court-martial, but you are not sure what issues should be raised, I am here to help. I have the experience you need and I will know what the best arguments are in your specific court-martial and/or appeal. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.