CAAF remands case to NMCCA to relook at the military judge preventing the acccused from accessing the evidence during the Care inquiry
Airman Apprentice Jones was having some trouble making it through a providence inquiry into child pornography offenses. After the military judge granted an overnight recess, the defense counsel asked the military judge to allow Airman Apprentice Jones to review the items to assist him in the Care inquiry. The military judge declined and NMCCA emphatically rejected a challenge based on that ruling. United States v. Jones, No. NMCCA 200602320 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. Dec. 12, 2007) (per curiam). NMCCA wrote:
The only issue raised in this otherwise uneventful guilty plea was whether or not, in the middle of the providence inquiry, the appellant should have been allowed to again view the contraband child pornography he illegally downloaded in order to refresh his recollection of its specific contents. The military judge did not abuse his discretion in denying the appellant additional access to this contraband as it was far from clear at the time that the appellant was unable to recall its contents. Indeed, after the overnight recess was granted to allow the appellant to regain his composure and refresh his recollection with the assistance of his defense counsel, he was fully capable of articulating the content of both the photographs and the movie serving as the basis for his pleas of guilty. His responses fully satisfied the military judge that the factual basis for his pleas was sufficient.
Id., slip op. at 5-6.
Despite the vehemence of NMCCA’s opinion — which noted at the outset that the court “strongly disagree[s]” with the appellant’s challenge — CAAF doesn’t seem to be so sure.
In an order issued Thursday, CAAF set aside NMCCA’s opinion and remanded the case to NMCCA for further consideration of “WHETHER THE MILITARY JUDGE ERRED BY DENYING APPELLANT THE OPPORTUNITY TO REVIEW THE EVIDENCE BEFORE HE PLED GUILTY AND WHETHER, IN LIGHT OF THAT DENIAL, APPELLANT’S PLEA WAS PROVIDENT.” United States v. Jones, __ M.J. ___, No. 08-0335/NA (C.A.A.F. Sept. 4, 2008).