The Supremes have docketed a cert petition in Stephens v. United States, No. 08-1514, seeking review of this CAAF opinion. 67 M.J. 233. The QP is: “May a criminal defendant be sentenced more harshly due to the emotional stress that his accuser experienced as a result of the defendant exercising his constitutional rights to plead not guilty and to confront his accuser?” The full cert petition is available here. [DISCLAIMER: I’m petitioner’s counsel of record.]

8 Responses to “New military cert petition filed”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is this anpther "screw the victims" position?

  2. Anonymous says:

    another, I mean

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yep. It sure is.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Stephens has nothing to do with "victims' rights."

  5. Anonymous says:

    In this cas is "the accuser" also the victim? If so his or her feelings should count, if not, then not.

    The system allows a person to plead not guilty. This often puts a victim through the unpleasant experience of testifying. In the event of a conviction, the "not guilty" plea was, in fact, a lie. Therefore making the victim testify is a bad act which warrants extra punishment.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anon 09:16 makes a very good point. We in the defense bar often appear contemptuous toward crime victimes when they testify and when we speak of them, because it is our duty to side with or clients.

  7. Dwight Sullivan says:

    Anon 0916 writes, "In the event of a conviction, the 'not guilty' plea was, in fact, a lie." Not so. As the Military Judges' Benchbook provides, even an accused who believes he or she is guilty has "the legal and moral right to plead not guilty and to place upon the government the burden of proving [the accused's] guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." Pleading not guilty is an absolute right that belongs to every defendant in a criminal case in the United States, not merely to those who are factually innocent.

  8. John O'Connor says:

    I agree with Dwight's point generally, but I'll say I don't find the Army Benchbook particularly authoritative on one's "moral rights," even if it claims such authoritativeness for itself.

    I always thought that aspect of the instruction was kind of dumb.