Before the holiday CAAF granted review of an Army case involving interpretation of Mil. R. Evid. 304(a)(2):
No. 17-0032/AR. U.S. v. Sean M. Ahern. CCA 20130822. On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted on the following issue:
WHETHER THE LOWER COURT ERRED WHEN IT HELD THAT THE PROHIBITION AGAINST USING AN ADMISSION BY SILENCE PROVIDED BY MIL. R. EVID. 304(a)(2) IS TRIGGERED ONLY “WHEN THE ACCUSED IS AWARE OF” AN INVESTIGATION CONTRARY TO THE PLAIN LANGUAGE OF THE RULE.
Briefs will be filed under Rule 25.
The Rule states:
Failure to deny an accusation of wrongdoing is not an admission of the truth of the accusation if at the time of the alleged failure the person was under investigation or was in confinement, arrest, or custody for the alleged wrongdoing.
I discussed the Army CCA’s decision in Ahern in this post, and noted that the CCA made a first-impression interpretation of the Rule to conclude that:
Mil. R. Evid. 304(a)(2) is triggered by an investigation when the accused is aware of the investigation. Whether an accused is aware of an investigation should be determined using the same objective test as is used in the Article 31(b) context. Jones, 73 M.J. at 362 [(CAAFlog case page)].
Slip op. at 11.