Whether a CCA opinion is published has enormous consequences for stare decisis purposes. In the past, we’ve noted the phenomena of missing NMCCA published opinions and an originally published NMCCA opinion that was somehow transmogrified into an unpublished opinion.
Now we have the curious case of the AFCCA’s opinion in Blazier. Is it a published opinion or not? I’m not sure.
Look at AFCCA’s web site and navigate to the 2008 opinion page. Scroll down to 8 September 2008, and there you will see United States v. Blazier, No. 36988. And what does it say right next to the ACM number? “Published” Click on the link and at the top of the opinion, you will see “__ M.J. __” Now look at the opinion on WESTLAW. (It’s at 2008 WL 4525781.) And what’s the first thing you see under the case name? “Not reported in M.J.” Well why the heck not? AFCCA’s web site still lists it as a published opinion. So is Blazier–a case dealing with Crawford v. Washington’s implications for the admissibility of lab reports arising from two different kinds of urinalyses–binding precedent within the Air Force or not? As I said earlier, I’m not sure.