The military judge in the Bales case mistakenly gave the trial counsel the unredacted 706 Board results for Staff Sergeant Bales, who then read the report. The defense now wants the TCs removed from the case. Tacoma News-Tribune coverage here. H/t SC

Judge Lind following CAAF’s guidance and using a scalpel rather than a sledge hammer to close hearings during the Manning sentencing phase. See Courthouse News here and the Baltimore Sun here.

Major Nidal Hasan announced that he was the shooter in the Ft. Hood shootings as he defends himself in his capital court-martial at Ft. Hood. AP via the Dallas Morning News here and the LA Times here.

9 Responses to “Military Justice News for August 7, 2013”

  1. Phil Cave says:

    re bales
    1.  How did the MJ have an unredacted copy?  Did he read it?  This seems odd in itself.  Usually you have to get it direct from the doctors.
    2.  John Henry Browne, a civilian attorney for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, told The Associated Press on Tuesday the prosecutors were inadvertently given a copy of compelled statements Bales made to Army psychiatrists, and then read them — even though they knew they weren’t supposed to.
    So, the prosecutors must have realized pretty quickly they had gotten the wrong report, like in the first page probably – but kept reading and sharing.  And discussing?
    Pity the media could not report as follows.  “On x, the prosecutors in the Bales court advised the judge and defense that they had mistakenly got the long form 706 report.  They realized that while reading the first page, and as a matter of professional intergrity stopped reading, sealed it in envelope, and here is the envelope your honor.”
    Seems like there will need to be a Kastigar-like hearing at a minimum.  Be a good idea for the TC to stop work, copy and seal their files now, and preserve that sealed file in the event of removal.  Certainly to try and stop anymore taint or possibility of taint.

  2. Bill Cassaara says:

    Oh my.  Judge Nance, while a tough judge, is not prone to mistakes.  And this is a biggie.   And Phil is right.  The TC should have treated this as kryptonite and sealed it and returned it. 

  3. Charlie Gittins says:

    Amateur hour all around.  Disappointing.

  4. Christopher Mathews says:

    It’s not clear to me from the article why the military judge released the full report to the trial counsel, but he’s clearly authorized to do so.  RCM 706(c)(3)(B)-(C).  He’s also authorized to release the accused’s statements to the sanity board.  RCM 706(c)(5). 
     
    Discounting for the moment the defense counsel’s claim that the prosecutors “knew they weren’t supposed to” read the report and the statements — if the trial counsel were given the report by a person authorized to do so, even if it turns out that doing so was in error, why would disqualification be required? 

  5. anonymous says:

    It seems best to withhold judgement, since the only information thus far in the media comes from one of three parties involved — defense counsel.  Military judge and/or trial counsel team may have an entirely different take on what has occurred and why.

  6. ARMYTC says:

    I’m with Phil on this. How did the Judge get the report to begin with?
     
    There’s plenty of other questions that need to be asked and at this point are nothing more than academic exercises. Was this a screw up by the board itself? If so, why didn’t the Judge catch it? Could it be that there was a short form report that mistakenly included material that was supposed to only be in the long form? How does a very experienced prosecutor not realize what he’s looking at and instantly freak out and email the judge and defense counsel? (and most importantly, who is darkman?)
     
    I’m taking the report with a grain of salt, considering the kind of <sarcasm> AWESOME </sarcasm> job the media does when reporting MJ news. I’ll wait until COL Nance comes out with a decision before passing any judgment.

  7. stewie says:

    Facts? All sides of the story? Why wait for those when we can just bleat out “amateur hour?” Much more satisfying.

  8. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    I inherited a case where the prior trial counsel AND the convening authority had accidentally viewed the unredacted 706 reports.  I have no idea how they got them in the first place, but my guess is that they honestly didn’t know they were supposed to read them.  I chalked it up to young trial counsel and a rule that doesn’t come up that often (particularly since TC aren’t supposed to get the results–it’s not like they had a big red “SECRET/NOFORN” label on them).  It was a cluster, but one that as far as I could tell was due to human error and genuine ignorance.