Mutiny convictions are (fortunately) exceptionally rare. But they do arise from misconduct by confined military prisoners. As a 1994 opinion of the Army CMR noted, “Duggan and all other published opinions since 1951 dealing with convictions for mutiny involve prisoners in confinement facilities.” United States v. Sanchez, 40 M.J. 508, 511 N.2 (A.Ct.Mil.Rev. 1994) (referencing United States v. Duggan, 4 U.S.C.M.A. 396 (1954)). There have been just three such cases since the turn of this century, the most recent involving Inmate Jamaal Lewis.

Lewis was convicted of two specifications of attempted robbery with a firearm, two specifications of murder while attempting to perpetrate a robbery, and aggravated assault with a firearm, in violation of Articles 80, 118, and 128, and sentenced to confinement for life, reduction to E-1, and  a dishonorable discharge. CAAF affirmed the findings and sentence in a 2011 opinion that considered whether it was plain error for the Defense to fail to object to, and the military judge to fail to stop or avoid, questions from the prosecution, the judge, and the panel of a Defense expert witness regarding the absence of exculpatory evidence, and Government argument on the merits about the same. In a unanimous decision authored by then Chief Judge Effron, CAAF found no error, concluding:

Here, the defense counsel chose to open the case with a promise of affirmative evidence. After the prosecution completed its case, the defense sought to fulfill that promise by presenting evidence that included testimony from an expert regarding his own investigation.

Defense counsel expressly reminded the members in the closing statement that the defense had presented more than a critique of the Government’s case by providing “affirmative evidence of innocence.”

In summary, the prosecution could rely on the defense posture and the evidence presented during the defense case as providing the basis for the questions posed to the expert witness. The military judge also could rely on those matters as the basis for posing questions on his own and from the panel. Likewise, during rebuttal of closing argument, the prosecution could rely on the defense counsel’s closing argument, which highlighted the earlier defense presentation, as providing the basis for the comments offered by the prosecution in rebuttal.

United States v. Lewis, 69 M.J. 379, 384-85 (C.A.A.F. 2011) (link to slip op.).

The facts of Inmate Lewis’ mutiny are unclear, but in a short, unpublished, summary disposition, a three-judge panel of the Army CCA rejects his assertions of error and affirms his convictions of one specification each of mutiny, kidnapping, willful disobedience of a lawful order, damaging military property, and two specifications of assault consummated by a battery, in violation of Articles 94, 134, 90, 108, and 128, and his sentence of confinement for four years (for which he received credit for 30 days of pretrial confinement). United States v. Lewis, No. 20111166, slip op. at 1 (A.Ct.Crim.App. Jan. 24, 2014) (link to unpub. op.).

Notably, the CCA discusses an assertion of error involving the Staff Judge Advocate’s failure to consider legal errors raised in Lewis’ clemency matters. The opinion notes that, “All of appellant’s R.C.M. 1105 matters were listed in the defense’s 21 May 2012 submissions under a paragraph entitled “Clemency Issues.'” Slip op. at 1. A footnote explains that, “A clear identification of issues alleged by defense counsel to be legal error in the R.C.M. 1105 as ‘legal error’ rather than ‘clemency’ would make clear to the SJA and the Convening Authority the issues defense counsel posits constitute legal error.” Slip op. at 1 N.1. Indeed.

2 Responses to “A mutiny at Fort Leavenworth”

  1. phil cave says:

    Actually, Lewis is one of 14 who “actively participated,” of which if I recollect correctly 9 went to GCM (Stanley was mine).  
    There was a “riot” in the SHU that lasted quite some hours.  Ultimately they had to break in to the SHU with the SRT.  

  2. Christian Deichert says:

    On the last paragraph regarding failure to consider legal error: we had one recently where there were three legal errors addressed and then one matter that read much more like legal error than a clemency request. Solution: put it in the legal error discussion anyway, with the caveat, “While not raised as legal error, the defense did raise the issue of…”