The Government counsel’s argument must be based on evidence…the Government cannot just argue anything they want.
Back in March 2013, I blogged about a case that was up for appeal because a trial counsel in a court-martial did some overblown ranting during his closing argument. (U.S. v. Soloman) Well, recently the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) has decided to review a similar case, U.S. v. Frey, involving a Government trial counsel overstepping during his sentencing argument. In that court-martial, the appellant was convicted of sexual offenses against a 10 year old girl. During the appellant’s unsworn statement in the sentencing phase of the court-martial, the appellant stated that he was disappointed in the panel’s decision to find him guilty but respected it. Then, during the sentencing argument, the trial counsel in that court-martial questioned how the appellant would act in the future if he couldn’t admit to his wrongdoings in that case. On appeal, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) found that the Government’s counsel erred in making this statement since there was no evidence that the appellant would abuse girls in the future. However, AFCCA determined that there was no prejudice to the appellant because the military judge gave a curative instruction to the panel prior to their sentencing deliberation in the court-martial. CAAF has now agreed to review this decision. As I stated back in March 2013, the Government does not have free reign to say whatever they want. You need someone sitting next to you at your court-martial who will know when the Government has overstepped and will call them on it. Additionally, you need someone with experience to appeal the decisions in the court-martial that may have been affected by the Government’s improper arguments. If you feel that the Government argued improperly during your court-martial, call me, I can help. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.