Army conviction may be reversed by CAAF for prosecutor misconduct.
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) will be hearing oral argument in United States v. Short on Tuesday, 24 October 2017. In this case, CAAF will be determining whether Sergeant Short’s conviction based on allegations of domestic abuse should be reversed due to prosecutorial misconduct. The courts have determined that prosecutorial misconduct occurs when trial counsel, “oversteps the bounds of that propriety and fairness which should characterize the conduct of such an officer in the prosecution of a criminal offense.” In Short, a trial counsel continued to push all limits in the courtroom despite several warnings from the military judge. The trial counsel tried to introduce inadmissible hearsay six different times. The trial counsel also tried to introduce improper evidence regarding the general nature of SGT Short’s marital relationship. The trial counsel also failed to disclose some evidence and violated several of the military judge’s evidentiary rulings. Finally, during the closing argument, the trial counsel commented on the fact that SGT Short was “staring” at his wife during her testimony and also asked the panel to imagine how uncomfortable it was for her to testify in front of her own husband. Both of these improper comments refer to SGT Short’s constitutional right to be at his own court-martial. The military judge gave several curative instructions and warned the trial counsel to stop throughout the trial. However, when the defense made a motion for a mistrial based on these offenses, the military judge denied the request. The CAAF will now review whether the military judge erred in not granting the mistrial or some other form of relief. This case shows that sometimes an accused encounters improper conduct by the prosecutor. In that case, an accused needs a strong advocate by their side to make of objections and properly preserve objections for appeal. This case also shows that CAAF is interested in appellants receiving a fair trial. If you feel that you or your loved one did not have a fair court-martial, call me. Also, if you need experienced counsel to represent you at your court-martial, call me. I am extremely experienced with court-martials and court-martial appeals. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.