During this year’s CAAF orientation, we learned that CAAF has a practice of granting any supp in a case where the accused received confinement for at least 30 years. United States v. Swanson is a case in point. NMCCA affirmed his sentence to LWOP in this unpublished opinion. United States v. Swanson, No. NMCCA 200501593 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. Nov. 13, 2007). CAAF granted review and summarily affirmed. United States v. Swanson, __ M.J. ___, No. 08-0280/NA (C.A.A.F. June 20, 2008) (summary disposition). Now the Supremes have docketed a pro se IFP cert petition in the case. Swanson v. United States, No. 08-6476. We have no information about the QP in the case.

5 Responses to “Supremes docket pro se IFP military cert petition”

  1. Dew_Process says:

    Well, the the unpublished Navy opinion has fertile constitutional grounds for appeal, that’s for sure.

    But, the more compelling question is, why was this a pro se, IFP pleading/petition? Where is Appellate Defense Counsel, when one most needs one????

  2. Gene Fidell says:

    The 30-year-grant policy is important news. Why 30 and not, say, 10? Any information on when this policy went into effect? Does it tally with actual experience?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just read the Swanson NMCCA opinion and I agree with dew process: why didn’t the appellate defense counsel file the petition on behalf of the client? Is it a staffing issue, is the appellate defense shop overworked, or is there a problem with a commitment to the client? I don’t see how 10 issues are good enough for NMCCA and precisely zero issues are good enough for the Supremes. The implicit proposition here is that there is a sliding scale of appellate worthiness. There is probably a sliding scale, but it seems to me that counsel tend to overestimate the slope of its curve.

  4. Anonymous says:


    After reading the appellate issues at NMCCA, it seems to me that this is a good example of hiding true appellate issues in a forest of poor issues. I suspect that few judges commit 14 reversible errors in a single trial. The fact that the appellate attorney claims a laundry list of errors has little bearing on whether a case is cert-worthy.

    Apparently, though, something in this case is cert-worthy. My money is that the court might be concerned with the admission of his post-offense comments, which apparently came in as some sort of 404(b) evidence. Either that or the admissibility of the accused’s hearsay statements to the one-year-old child.

  5. Dew_Process says:

    Swanson has only been “docketed” – the Supremes have not granted cert.

    Stay tuned . . .