Military judge’s rejection of DNA evidence is upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
DNA evidence can make or break a case for the government. In United States v. Henning, it definitely became a huge issue for the government. In this case, an Army Major was charged with several Article 120 offenses for allegedly sexually assaulting and raping a woman. DNA was found on her underwear and the Kansas City lab that tested it concluded that Major Henning was a “possible contributor” to a minor profile found in the DNA. The lab further concluded that “[t]he expected frequency of potential contributors to the alleles present in [the DNA sample taken from the underwear] is one in 220 unrelated individuals.” The defense objected to the admission of the evidence on the grounds that the “modified version” of the formula used by the Kansas City lab was unreliable. The military judge agreed with the defense and refused to allow the government to enter the DNA evidence at the court-martial. The Government appealed the military judge’s opinion on the spot using an interlocutory appeal. The Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) sided with the government and ruled that the military judge erred in his ruling and abused his discretion in excluding the DNA evidence. This decision was then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). CAAF reviewed the issue and the military judge’s original ruling and sided with appellant. CAAF held that ACCA’s decision was wrong and that the military judge did not in fact abuse his discretion in excluding the evidence at the court-martial. This case shows that DNA evidence is complicated and you need the right advocate by your side to understand its significance and to be ready to object at the appropriate moments. Additionally, it shows that courts disagree and you should not give up on a valid appeal. In this case, CAAF went against the ruling made by its lower court ACCA, ruling in favor of the appellant. If you want to appeal an issue relating to DNA in your court-martial or some other issue, you need an advocate who has a lot of experience with military appeals. I have that experience. If you or your loved one is facing a court-martial or wants to appeal his court-martial, call now and we will talk through the evidence together. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.