CAAFlog » Article 6b

In a published order in H.V. v. Commander Kitchen, Military Judge, and Randolph, Real Party in Interest, 75 M.J. 717, Misc. Docket No. 001-16 (C.G. Ct. Crim. App. Jul. 8, 2016) (link to order), a three-judge panel of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals holds that Mil. R. Evid. 513 (the psychotherapist-patient privilege) extends “to the psychotherapist’s conclusions (diagnoses) and resulting treatments.” Order at 3.

The privilege states that:

A patient has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing a confidential communication made between the patient and a psychotherapist or an assistant to the psychotherapist, in a case arising under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, if such communication was made for the purpose of facilitating diagnosis or treatment of the patient’s mental or emotional condition.

Mil. R. Evid. 513(a).

H.V. is a member of the Coast Guard and an alleged victim in a court-martial. The defense moved to compel production of her mental health records. Considering the motion the military judge, Commander Kitchen, determined that Mil. R. Evid. 513 does not apply to “the disclosure of dates on which a patient was treated, the identity of the provider, the diagnostic code, or the therapies used,” and accordingly ordered production of H.V.’s mental health records:

limited to ONLY those portions indicating a psychiatric diagnosis (as this phrase is used in the DSM-5), the date of such diagnosis, any medications prescribed, the duration prescribed medications were to be taken, type of therapies used, and the resolution of the diagnosed psychiatric condition, if applicable.

Order at 2 (quoting military judge’s ruling). H.V., however, does not want even these records disclosed, and so she sought a writ of mandamus under Article 6b from the CCA to compel the military judge to apply the privilege to these records.

In what I believe is a case of first impression, the panel of the Coast Guard CCA splits 2-1 to grant the writ and expand the privilege, with Chief Judge McClelland writing for the majority and Judge Bruce dissenting.

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CAAF decided the Marine Corps case of EV v. United States & Martinez, 75 M.J. 331, No. 16-0398/MC (CAAFlog case page) (link to slip op.), on Monday, June 21, 2016. In a short opinion the court finds no jurisdiction to entertain a writ-appeal by an alleged victim who sought to reverse a military judge’s order for disclosure of portions of her mental health records. As a result, CAAF dismisses the petition.

Judge Stucky writes for a unanimous court.

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CAAF will hear oral argument in the Marine Corps case of EV v. United States & Martinez, No. 16/0398/MC (CAAFlog case page), on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 (after the oral argument in Howell).

The case is a writ-appeal by an alleged victim (EV) who sought extraordinary relief from the Navy-Marine Corps CCA to reverse a military judge’s order for disclosure of portions of her mental health records. Such records are normally privileged from disclosure under Mil. R. Evid 513 (the psychotherapist-patient privilege), however the military judge found that disclosure was required to protect the constitutional rights of the accused (Sergeant Martinez) and also that the crime/fraud exception in Mil. R. Evid. 513(d)(5) applies to the facts of this case. That exception removes the privilege against disclosure for any communications that “clearly contemplate[] the future commission of a fraud or crime.”

EV filed her petition pursuant to the recently-enacted provision in Article 6b(e), which states that an alleged victim “may petition the Court of Criminal Appeals for a writ of mandamus to require the court-martial to comply with the Military Rule of Evidence.” The NMCCA denied the petition, concluding that EV did not have a clear and indisputable right to reversal of the judge’s order. EV appealed that denial to CAAF, raising three issues that challenge the military judge’s ruling and the NMCCA’s denial of relief. CAAF then specified a fourth issue questioning whether the court has jurisdiction to consider this case:

I. Whether the NMCCA erred by erroneously denying EV’s petition for a writ of mandamus despite EV’s clear and indisputable right to the issuance of a writ.

II. Whether the military judge abused his discretion by erroneously ruling the defense satisfied each prong of Mil. R. Evid. 513(e)(3) and by ruling that Mil. R. Evid. 513(d)(5) applied.

III. Whether the military judge violated EV’s Article 6b rights by erroneously applying impermissible exceptions and denying EV a right to receive notice and to be heard.

IV. (specified by CAAF). Whether the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has statutory authority to exercise jurisdiction over decisions of the courts of criminal appeals rendered pursuant to Article 6b, UCMJ.

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It’s been a long time coming, but the President has finally signed an Executive Order (number 13696) amending the Manual for Courts-Martial to incorporate the 2013 legislative changes to the UCMJ (series of posts discussing the changes available here). The EO is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Monday, but you can read an advance copy here.

Edit: The final version is available here. 80 Fed. Reg. 35,783.

The changes include a new R.C.M. 405 (see this discussion of the stopgap measures), various changes to implement the new Article 6b (statute discussed here and here), and a new R.C.M. 1001A that allows a victim to make an unsworn statement during sentencing that is not subject to cross-examination (proposed rule discussed here).

Astonishingly, the EO does not provide the still-missing Part IV materials for the current version of Article 120 (enacted in the FY12 NDAA, and effective on 28 June 2012) (discussed here). Such materials would include model specifications (like the ones available here), definitions, explanations, and other valuable commentary. These materials are – presumably – included in the residuum EO (discussed here) that – we can only hope – will one day get signed, but President Obama’s failure to implement Article 120 is deeply troubling. That failure was also a topic of discussion during the recent meeting of the Article 120 subcommittee of the Judicial Proceedings Panel (at which I testified) (meeting details available here).

A summary of the new EO is after the jump. The summary is taken verbatim from an excellent write-up by the Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division (it will eventually be posted here as part of Practice Advisory 9-15).

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CAAF’s daily journal shows the following entry for May 29, 2015:

No. 15-0606/MC. CB, Appellant v. Moira Modzelewski, Captain, U.S. Navy, In her official capacity as Military Judge, and Donald Foster, Lance Corporal U.S. Marine Corps, Real Party in Interest, Appellees.CCA 201500058.  Notice is hereby given that a writ-appeal petition for review of the decision of the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals on application for extraordinary relief was filed under Rule 27(b), together with Appellant’s motion for a stay proceedings, on this date. The Judge Advocate General is directed to appoint counsel to represent the Appellee military judge. The answer is due no later than June 8, 2015.

Captain Modzelewski is a military judge who previously served as Chief Judge of the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.

After noting this entry early last week, I submitted a FOIA request to the Navy seeking copies of the pleadings in the case. I have not received a response to that FOIA request. However, I have received a copy of the writ-appeal petition filed at CAAF (without the sealed appendix). The petition is available here.

CB is an alleged victim of sexual assault. Her alleged assailant is a junior enlisted Marine. The petition challenges the military judge’s ruling on M.R.E. 412 issues. Specifically:

Ms. CB respectfully requests that this Court set aside the Trial Court’s rulings made under M.R.E. 412 and M.R.E. 608(c), and direct the Trial Court to exclude any evidence of previous or subsequent sexual assault incidents unrelated to the present case from being introduced at trial. When the Military Judge ordered Ms. CB to reveal her private Restricted Reports and other reports of sexual assault and allowed these to be utilized as extrinsic impeachment evidence at trial, this violated the M.R.E., constitutional due process, and the right to be treated with fairness and respect for the dignity and privacy of the victim, thus requiring the Trial Court’s ruling be overruled.

Pet. at 4. The petition also notes the following significant finding of fact by the military judge:

At this Motion Session, the Military Judge stated that there was “significant indicia” of falsity regarding Ms. CB’s prior sexual assault incidents.

Pet. at 13.

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The Hill reports here on the Senate’s final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The complete text of the bill is available here.

The bill contains numerous provisions of interest to military justice practitioners (see Division A, Title V, Subtitle D). Here are the highlights:

  • Section 531 makes numerous “technical revisions and clarifications” to last year’s changes to the UCMJ, including:
    • Correcting technical language regarding a convening authority’s action on a “qualifying offense” (original text analyzed here);
    • Correcting the definition of a victim in the new Article 60(d) (original text analyzed here);
    • Adding language explicitly authorizing an accused’s waiver of an Article 32 preliminary inquiry (original text analyzed here);
    • Expanding the prohibition on defense counsel interviews of an alleged victim of a sex offense to include any “counsel for the accused” and to involve notification to any counsel for the alleged victim (original text analyzed here);
    • Adding the word “unlawful” into the new forcible sodomy/bestiality statute (Article 125) (original text analyzed here);
    • Clarification of the definition of prospective members of the armed forces for purposes of inappropriate and prohibited relationships;
    • Technical changes to the new Article 6b (original text analyzed here and here);
    • Making the new Article 32 effective on December 26, regardless of the date of the alleged offense (original text analyzed here);
    • Restoring a convening authority’s total discretion to act on the findings or sentence (except for offenses with a mandatory minimum) when a conviction involves offenses that occurred both before and after the effective date of the new Article 60(c) (original text analyzed here).
  • Section 532 enacts a new Article 49, permitting depositions only “if the party [seeking the deposition] demonstrates that, due to exceptional circumstances, it is in the interest of justice that the testimony of the prospective witness be taken and preserved…” This is likely a reaction to the McDowell case (last discussed here).
  • Section 535 enacts a new paragraph (e) in Article 6b that gives an alleged victim an explicit right to petition a CCA for a writ of mandamus to force compliance with M.R.E. 412 (the rape shield) and M.R.E. 513 (the psychotherapist-patient privilege). This is likely a reaction to the dissenting opinions in LRM v. Kastenberg, 72 M.J. 364 (C.A.A.F. 2013) (CAAFlog case page).
  • Section 536 limits the admissibility of good military character evidence, as follows:


(a) Modification Required- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, Rule 404(a) of the Military Rules of Evidence shall be amended to provide that the general military character of an accused is not admissible for the purpose of showing the probability of innocence of the accused for an offense specified in subsection (b).

(b) Covered Offenses- Subsection (a) applies to the following offenses under chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (the Uniform Code of Military Justice):

(1) An offense under sections 920 through 923a of such title (articles 120 through 123a).

(2) An offense under sections 925 through 927 of such title (articles 125 through 127).

(3) An offense under sections 929 through 932 of such title (articles 129 through 132).

(4) Any other offense under such chapter (the Uniform Code of Military Justice) in which evidence of the general military character of the accused is not relevant to an element of an offense for which the accused has been charged.

(5) An attempt to commit an offense or a conspiracy to commit an offense specified in a preceding paragraph as punishable under section 880 or 881 of such title (article 80 or 81).

I’ve written about this before and I will write about it again in the coming weeks.

  • Section 537 requires modification to M.R.E. 513 to eliminate the “constitutionally required” exception to the privilege (paragraph (d)(8)) and to increase the burden on a party seeking production or admission of privileged matters.
  • Section 541 gives the “chief prosecutor” of each Armed Force the power to force secretarial review of a convening authority’s decision to not refer a charged sex-related offense to trial.

Congress created Article 6b in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. My ongoing analysis of the military justice provisions in that legislation is available at this link.

Article 6b is a military version of the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771) (the CVRA), and many people (including myself) call it the Military Crime Victims’ Rights Act (the MCVRA) (I think the Joint Service Committee coined the term).

Article 6b(b) provides the following definition:

(b) Victim of an Offense Under This Chapter Defined- In this section, the term ‘victim of an offense under this chapter’ means a person who has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of an offense under this chapter (the Uniform Code of Military Justice).

The problem with the definition is that it doesn’t provide a clear point in time when the protections of Article 6b apply (i.e., at the time of commission of the alleged offense? At the time the report is made? Once a formal investigation begins? After charges are preferred? Etc., etc…).

The analogous CVRA may be a source of some guidance, except that it is also somewhat unclear. In this post at The Volokh Conspiracy, Paul Cassell discusses a paper he co-authored (available here) that argues that the CVRA applies before charges are filed, while the Justice Department took the position (in this memo) that the CVRA generally applies only after charges are filed.

Notably, the special victims counsel (SVC) component of the military’s legal assistance program (established in 10 U.S.C. § 1044e) states that SVC services (for sex-related offense victims) begins:

[U]pon report of an alleged sex-related offense or at the time the victim seeks assistance from a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, a military criminal investigator, a victim/witness liaison, a trial counsel, a healthcare provider, or any other personnel designated by the Secretary concerned for purposes of this subsection.

10 U.S.C. § 1044e(f)(1).

This is part two of a series of posts discussing the military justice reforms in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, signed into law by the President on December 26, 2013. The full series is available at this link.

Of the 15 NDAA provisions identified in the first part of this series, seven of them affect the earliest stages of a court-martial prosecution. They are:

  • § 1701, creating “Article 6b. Rights of the victim of an offense under this chapter.”
  • § 1716, codifying the special victims counsel program in 10 U.S.C. § 1044e, “Special Victims’ Counsel for victims of sex-related offenses.”
  • § 1703, amending Article 43 to eliminate the 5-year statute of limitations on sexual assault (Art. 120(b)) and sexual assault of a child (Art. 120b(b)). This section applies only to offenses committed on or after December 26, 2013.
  • § 1705(a), amending Article 56 to create a mandatory minimum of dismissal or dishonorable discharge for the offenses of rape (120(a)) or sexual assault (120(b)), rape of a child (120b(a)) or sexual assault of a child (120b(b)), forcible sodomy (125), or attempts to commit these offenses. This takes effect and applies only to offenses committed on and after June 24, 2014 (180 days from enactment).
  • § 1705(b), amending Article 18 to confer jurisdiction over the 1705(a) offenses to only general courts-martial. This also takes effect and applies only to offenses committed on and after June 24, 2014 (180 days from enactment).
  • § 1708, requiring the President to amend the non-binding discussion to R.C.M. 306.
  • § 1707, repealing the offense of consensual sodomy.

Discussion of each of these provisions follows.

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