Court Martial Appeals Blog

This is a blog focusing on Court Martial Appeals Issues.

Three panel members lied. CAAF overturns conviction saying that mistrial should have been granted.

October 16, 2017

In June 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) overturned a conviction for several alleged offenses in the Army case United States v. Commisso because three panel members lied when they stated that they had no prior knowledge of the case. Sergeant First Class (SFC) Commisso was convicted by a general court-martial … Read more

CAAF reviewing whether a Commander felt pressured into approving findings of guilty when he wanted to disapprove them.

October 1, 2017

Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) has agreed to review a Navy case called United States v. Barry. In this case, Senior Chief Barry was found guilty of sexual assault. Following his court-martial, Rear Admiral Patrick Lorge approved the findings of guilty as the convening authority. Senior Chief Barry appealed the … Read more

Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals reverses conviction due to an error in the terms of the guilty plea.

September 20, 2017

Prior to pleading guilty in a court-martial, typically an “offer to plead guilty” or a pretrial agreement (PTA) is constructed by the defense counsel and the terms are agreed to by the government. In the PTA, the accused is offering to plead guilty at a court-martial in exchange for certain things. For instance, an accused … Read more

Army Court Drastically Changes Decades of Appellate Military Justice Practice

September 13, 2017

On 7 September 2017, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals upended decades of appellate military justice practice without any warning to the Defense Appellate Division, the Government Appellate Division, and the civilian appellate defense counsel who regularly practice and appear before that Court.  In United States v. Tovar-Chavez, the Army Court has now decided that … Read more

Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Overturns Offenses

September 12, 2017

On 14 June 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned and dismissed two offenses for one of our Coast Guard clients. The CAAF decision about whether an amendment to a specification was a minor or major change overruled YEARS of precedent for all the military courts of criminal appeals. Because of our … Read more

Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces upholds judge’s suppression of cell phone evidence due to Fifth Amendment violation.

September 7, 2017

Army Sergeant (SGT) Mitchell was accused of using his cell phone to harass his wife. After SGT Mitchell was escorted to the military police station, he was read his rights. SGT Mitchell invoked his 5th Amendment right to an attorney. However, two hours after invoking his right to counsel, the police asked SGT Mitchell to … Read more

AFCCA finds judge erred in not admitting evidence of consensual sex following alleged sexual assault.

August 23, 2017

Recently, on 16 August 2017, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) reviewed a military judge’s decision to exclude evidence under M.R.E. 412 in United States v. Leonhardt. In this case, a female Air Force Academy cadet accused 2LT Leonhardt, a male Air Force Academy cadet, of raping her after inviting her back to … Read more

Army Court of Criminal Appeals determines that counsel have only one chance to object during closing argument.

August 20, 2017

Recently, on 5 July 2017, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) held that appellant, Sergeant (SGT) Kelly waived his right to claim on appeal that the government argued improperly when his defense counsel failed to object to the argument at the court-martial. In this case, SGT Kelly was accused of sexually assaulting a female … Read more

Air Force CCA puts limits on admissibility of victim impact statements.

August 8, 2017

Recently, on 7 July 2017, in United States v. Barker the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals made it clear that an alleged victim’s right to submit a victim impact statement during the sentencing phase of a court-martial has limits. Airman First Class Barker pled guilty to possessing and viewing child pornography at his court-martial. … Read more

Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals holds that victim’s right to not be excluded from an Article 32 hearing has limits.

August 5, 2017

Recently, in A.M. v. United States and Densford, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) reviewed a claim from an alleged sexual assault victim that she was excluded from parts of the preliminary Article 32 hearing in violation of Article 6b of the UCMJ. Under Article 6b(a)(3), the alleged victim of a UCMJ offense … Read more