Army Court of Criminal Appeals reverses sexual offenses based on government’s improper “human lie detector” testimony.
Recently, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) in United States v. Jackson reversed convictions for sexual offenses involving appellant’s teenage daughter based on improper testimony from a CID agent. In this case, defense maintained that appellant’s confession to the offenses was a false confession. Then, a CID agent took the stand to testify regarding the confession. Prior to discussing what occurred during her interview with appellant, she first talked about her own credentials. During this part of the testimony, the agent stated that she had taken master’s level courses with CIA agents at the National Center for Credibility Assessment. The agent further testified that she had the ability to discern verbal and nonverbal signs of deception. She then went on to talk about appellant’s demeanor during the interview. She stated that at one point appellant “got this really like faraway look in his eyes like he was reliving it.” The agent further testified that she believed appellant was lying when he denied the allegations. The military judge allowed the testimony. An enlisted panel convicted appellant to 4 years confinement and a dishonorable discharge. However, ACCA reviewed this testimony on appeal and determined that it was improper because the CID agent was acting as a “human lie detector.” ACCA held that this testimony combined with her attendance at the courses at the National Center for Credibility Assessment gave the impression that she was telling the members that his confession was in fact true and not false. ACCA therefore reversed the sexual assault charges. There will be a rehearing on the remaining charges (conspiracy and disobedience), however ACCA limited appellant’s possible confinement to two years because of an unacceptable amount of post trial delay in the case. This was certainly a good result for appellant and goes to show that appeals can have good results. I have a lot of experience with both court-martials and court-martial appeals. I know exactly what objections to make during the court-martial and what issues to appeal to the appellate courts. If you or a loved one is facing a court-martial or you believe the court-martial should be appealed, you need an experienced advocate by your side. Call me now. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.