There are two rules of completeness in the Military Rules of Evidence (M.R.E.). The first is M.R.E. 106 that, like its federal counterpart, states:

Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements. If a party introduces all or part of a writing or recorded statement, an adverse party may require the introduction, at that time, of any other part – or any other writing or recorded statement – that in fairness ought to be considered at the same time.

But the second is a military-specific rule that does not have a counterpart in the Federal Rules of Evidence:

Completeness. If only part of an alleged admission or confession is introduced against the accused, the defense, by cross-examination or otherwise, may introduce the remaining portions of the statement.

M.R.E. 304(h) (2013) (formerly M.R.E. 304(h)(2)). In United States v. Rodriguez, CAAF explained:

When the President promulgated the Military Rules of Evidence in 1980, the rules not only adopted the general rule of completeness in Fed.R.Evid. 106 , but also included Rule 304(h)(2), thereby continuing the special treatment of confessions in the military justice system. The Drafters’ Analysis noted that Rule 304(h)(2) was “taken without significant change” from paragraph 140a(6) of the 1969 Manual. Manual, supra (2000 ed.) at A22-13. The Analysis also observed that in contrast to Rule 106 ‘s focus on written statements by an adverse party, Rule 304(h)(2) “allows the defense to complete an incomplete statement regardless of whether the statement is oral or in writing.” Id.

56 M.J. 336, 341 (C.A.A.F. 2002).

The Army CCA recently applied this military-specific rule to reverse an appellant’s conviction of one specification of possession of child pornography in violation of Article 134, on which he was tried by a military judge alone and sentenced to confinement for eight months and a bad-conduct discharge. The case is United States v. Yancey, No. 20120393 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Dec. 8, 2014) (link to slip op.). Judge Campanella wrote for a three-judge panel of the CCA.

2 Responses to “The Army CCA applies the rule of completeness to reverse a conviction”

  1. Tami (a/k/a Princess Leia) says:

    Good decision.  We all know that CID spends hours interrogating suspects, but rarely reduces the entire interrogation to a written statement.  Though CID seems to be videotaping interrogations more.

  2. Defense Hack says:

    I think that this misunderstanding of the rule is very, very common.