On Friday, the Judge Advocate General of the Navy certified a case to CAAF dealing with the constitutionality of the new Article 120 and CAAF ordered an expedited briefing schedule. That expedited schedule makes me think that CAAF may hear oral argument on the case this term.
Here are the six issues specified in United States v. Neal, No. 09-5004/NA:
I. WHETHER THE NAVY-MARINE CORPS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING IT HAD JURISDICTION OVER THIS ARTICLE 62, UCMJ, APPEAL, WHERE THE APPEAL WAS TAKEN AFTER THE CASE WAS ADJOURNED AND THE MEMBERS DISMISSED.
II. DESPITE THE LANGUAGE OF ARTICLE 120(r), UCMJ, WHETHER THE NAVY-MARINE CORPS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS CORRECTLY HELD THAT THE ARTICLE DOES NOT PROHIBIT THE ACCUSED FROM INTRODUCING EVIDENCE OF CONSENT IN ORDER TO NEGATE AN ELEMENT OF THE OFFENSE.
III. CONCERNING THE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE SET FORTH IN ARTICLE 120(t)(16), WHETHER THE NAVY-MARINE CORPS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS CORRECTLY HELD THAT CONGRESS CONSTITUTIONALLY ALLOCATED, TO THE ACCUSED, THE BURDEN OF PROVING CONSENT BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE.
IV. WHETHER THE NAVY-MARINE CORPS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS CORRECTLY HELD THAT “LACK OF CONSENT” IS NOT AN IMPLICIT ELEMENT OF ARTICLE 120 CRIMES, INCLUDING THE CHARGED OFFENSE, GIVEN THE DEFINITION OF “FORCE” IN ARTICLE 120(t)(5), AND THUS ARTICLE 120, UCMJ, DOES NOT UNCONSTITUTIONALLY SHIFT THE BURDEN TO THE ACCUSED TO “DISPROVE AN ELEMENT OF THE OFFENSE.”
V. WHETHER THE NAVY-MARINE CORPS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS CORRECTLY HELD THAT THE EVIDENCE TRIGGERED THE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE OF CONSENT AS DEFINED IN ARTICLE 120(t)(16), UCMJ, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE APPELLANT FAILED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE OBJECTIVE ACTS OF THE ALLEGED OFFENSE.
VI. WHETHER THE FINAL TWO SENTENCES OF ARTICLE 120(t)(16), UCMJ, WHICH ALLOWS FOR CONSIDERATION AS TO WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT HAS DISPROVED THE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE OF CONSENT BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, AFTER THE ACCUSED HAS PROVED THE DEFENSE BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE, CREATE A LEGALLY IMPOSSIBLE BURDEN ALLOCATION.
This is one of the rare cases where a Judge Advocate General certifies issues to CAAF on which the government prevailed at the CCA level. I understand that both the government and the defense sought certification — a wise move by the government, since it has an obvious interest in obtaining a quick ruling on Article 120’s constitutionality, though this case won’t resolve every possible constitutional challenge to the new Article 120.
NMCCA’s opinion in the case is available at 67 M.J. 675 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. 2009) (en banc).