CAAF granted review and ordered briefs in three cases yesterday.
First is an Air Force case:
No. 14-0166/AF. U.S. v. Brittany N. OLSON. CCA S32034. Review granted on the following issue:
WHETHER THE MILITARY JUDGE ERRED BY DENYING THE DEFENSE’S MOTION TO SUPPRESS THE EVIDENCE SEIZED FROM APPELLANT’S HOUSE BECAUSE THE TOTALITY OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES INDICATED THAT APPELLANT’S CONSENT TO SEARCH WAS INVOLUNTARY.
The Air Force CCA’s opinion is available here. The CCA considered the granted issue and determined that Appellant voluntarily consented to the search.
Next is an Army case:
No. 14-0495/AR. U.S. v. Matthew R. ADAMS, Jr. CCA 20110503. Review granted on the following issue:
WHETHER THE ARMY COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE MILITARY JUDGE DID NOT ABUSE HIS DISCRETION IN ADMITTING THE PORTION OF APPELLANT’S SWORN STATEMENT REGARDING THE [THEFT] OF COCAINE BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT FAILED TO CORROBORATE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH MILITARY RULE OF EVIDENCE 304(g), THE ESSENTIAL FACT THAT APPELLANT TOOK COCAINE.
The Army CCA’s opinion is available here. The CCA considered the granted issue and rejected it, reasoning that “the issue is not whether the government failed to corroborate whether appellant ‘took cocaine,’ but rather whether the corroborating evidence justifies the inference as to the truth of the essential facts of the confession.” United States v. Adams, No. 20110503, slip op. at 3 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 29, 2013). The court concluded that “it is reasonable to infer the truth of the essential facts in appellant’s confession to stealing cocaine. This inference is drawn from the following facts: the victim of the cocaine theft shared a similar, yet uncommon, name to a known drug dealer in the local Fort Drum area; a weapon matching the description of the one appellant stated he used in the theft was found in his residence four days after the incident; and the named locations of the meeting place and the theft were in the local area and in close proximity to one another.” Slip op. at 5.
Last is a Marine Corps case:
No. 14-0524/MC. U.S. v. Troy B. NORMAN. CCA 201300152. Review granted on the following issue:
WHETHER THE CONVICTION FOR CHILD ENDANGERMENT BY CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE IS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT WHEN THE ONLY TESTIMONY OFFERED TO PROVE ITS SERVICE DISCREDITING NATURE WAS ADMITTED IN ERROR.
The NMCCA’s opinion is available here. Appellant was convicted of a single specification of endangering a child in violation of Article 134 charged as service discrediting conduct. Over Defense objection, a noncommissioned officer testified that “anybody who would do that would bring discredit upon themselves, but especially a Marine, because of the high opinion that we are . . . held to by the public.” United States v. Norman, No. 201300152, slip op. at 4 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 20, 2014) (quoting Record at 712) (omission in original). The CCA assumed error in the admission of this testimony but found it harmless, reasoning that “the members did not need the SNCO’s generic testimony to establish the terminal element; in fact, they required no testimony at all regarding this element.” Id.
Notably absent is a grant in a Navy case (Coast Guard cases are rare enough that the absence isn’t notable at this time). As I noted in Part I of my 2013 End o’ Term Stats, CAAF didn’t hear oral argument or issue an authored opinion in a single Navy case last term (and it issued summary dispositions in just three Navy cases). Moreover, there are no Navy cases on CAAF’s master docket (last term ended with 28 cases on the master docket and the three new grants takes the total to 31 – the breakdown is: 17 Air Force, 11 Army, 3 Marine Corps).
The last authored CAAF opinion in a Navy case was Chief Judge Baker’s unanimous opinion in United States v. Brown, 72 M.J. 359 (C.A.A.F. Jul. 15, 2013) (CAAFlog case page). That case was also the last time CAAF heard oral argument in a Navy case – on May 14, 2013.