CAAFlog » October 2016 Term » United States v. Bartee

This week at SCOTUS: The conference on the cert. petition in Sterling was rescheduled. A combined reply brief was filed in Dalmazzi and Cox (available here). The petition for a rehearing was denied in Howell (noted here).

A cert. petition was filed in Ortiz (available here).

An application for an extension of time to file a cert. petition was filed in Bartee v. United States, No. 16A1135. In United States v. Bartee, 76 M.J. 141 (C.A.A.F. Mar. 15, 2017) (CAAFlog case page), a majority of CAAF concluded that there was no systemic exclusion of court-martial members on the basis of rank despite the fact that the convening order duplicated an earlier order that was found to have systemically excluded.

I’m not aware of any military justice developments at the Supreme Court, where I’m tracking five cases:

This week at CAAF: CAAF will hear the final oral argument of the term on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.:

United States v. Chikaka, 16-0586/MC (CAAFlog case page)

Issues:
I. Where the military judge admitted on the merits a campaign plan to “fully operationalize the Commandant’s guidance” from the Heritage Tour, and then during sentencing admitted a picture of the Commandant and allowed Appellant’s commanding officer to testify that it was important for the members to adjudge a harsh sentence, did the lower court err in failing to find evidence of unlawful command influence sufficient to shift the burden to the Government to disprove unlawful command influence in this case?
II. Whether the military judge erred when he instructed the members, “if, based on your consideration of the evidence, you are firmly convinced that the accused is guilty of the crime charged, you must find him guilty,” where such an instruction is in violation of United States v. Martin Linen Supply Co., 430 U.S. 564, 572-73 (1977), and there is inconsistent application between the services of the instructions relating to when members must or should convict an accused.

Case Links:
NMCCA oral argument audio
NMCCA opinion
Appellant’s brief
Appellee’s (Navy-Marine Corps App. Gov’t Div.) brief
Appellant’s brief
Blog post: Argument preview

This week at the ACCA: The Army CCA will hear oral argument in one case this week, on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at 12:45 p.m.:

United States v. Close, No. 20140984

Issue: Whether trial defense counsel were ineffective by failing to move to suppress all of the evidence seized and subsequently examined from appellant’s off-post residence as an unreasonable search and seizure.

This week at the AFCCA: The next scheduled oral argument at the Air Force CCA is on April 17, 2017.

This week at the CGCCA: The Coast Guard CCA’s oral argument schedule shows no scheduled oral arguments.

This week at the NMCCA: The Navy-Marine Corps CCA’s website shows no scheduled oral arguments.

CAAF decided the Marine Corps case of United States v. Bartee, 76 M.J. 141, No. 16-0391/MC (CAAFlog case page) (link to slip op.), on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. A majority concludes that there was no systemic exclusion of court-martial members on the basis of rank despite the fact that the convening order duplicated an earlier order that was found to have systemically excluded, affirming the decision of the Navy-Marine Corps CCA.

Judge Sparks writes for the court, joined by Judges Stucky and Ohlson. Judge Ryan concurs. Chief Judge Erdmann dissents.

CAAF granted review of a single issue:

The systematic exclusion of individuals by rank from the member-selection process is prohibited. Here, the military judge dismissed the panel for violating Article 25, UCMJ, but the convening authority reconvened the exact same panel the same day. Is this systematic exclusion based on rank reversible error?

Lance Corporal (E-3) Bartee demanded trial by a general court-martial composed of members with enlisted representation. The convening authority’s staff judge advocate prepared a draft convening order appointing only officers at paygrade 0-4 and above and enlisted personnel at paygrade E-8 and above, and the convening authority signed that order. But Bartee objected to the composition of the panel on the basis that it improperly excluded members of junior ranks.

Read more »

Audio of today’s arguments at CAAF is available at the following links:

United States v. Bartee, No. 16-0391/MC (CAAFlog case page): Oral argument audio.

United States v. Sager, No. 16-0418/NA (CAAFlog case page): Oral argument audio.

CAAF will hear oral argument in the Marine Corps case of United States v. Bartee, No. 16-0391/MC (CAAFlog case page), on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. The case presents a single issue that challenges the selection of members for the court-martial:

The systematic exclusion of individuals by rank from the member-selection process is prohibited. Here, the military judge dismissed the panel for violating Article 25, UCMJ, but the convening authority reconvened the exact same panel the same day. Is this systematic exclusion based on rank reversible error?

The appellant, Lance Corporal (E-3) Bartee, was convicted contrary to his pleas of not guilty, by a general court-martial, of making a false official statement and larceny. He was sentenced to confinement for 20 months and a dishonorable discharge.

Bartee wanted to be tried by a court-martial composed of members with enlisted representation. Article 25 states that a convening authority must select members who, “in his opinion, are best qualified for the duty by reason of age, education, training, experience, length of service, and judicial temperament.” Rank – while often (but certainaly not always) a convenient proxy for some of these factors – is not one of the Article 25 criteria. However, it played a significant role in the selection of members in Bartee’s case.

Read more »

Congress provided specific criteria for member selection in Article 25(d)(2):

When convening a court-martial, the convening authority shall detail as members thereof such members of the armed forces as, in his opinion, are best qualified for the duty by reason of age, education, training, experience, length of service, and judicial temperament.

Rank is not one of these factors. Last term, in United States v. Ward, 74 M.J. 225 (C.A.A.F. 2015) (CAAFlog case page), and United States v. Sullivan, 74 M.J. 448 (C.A.A.F. 2015) (CAAFlog case page), CAAF found the improper categorical exclusion of members on the basis of rank to be harmless. But with a grant of review on Monday, CAAF will revisit this issue:

No. 16-0391/MC. U.S. v. Emmanuel Q. Bartee. CCA 201500037. On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted on the following issue:

THE SYSTEMATIC EXCLUSION OF INDIVIDUALS BY RANK FROM THE MEMBER-SELECTION PROCESS IS PROHIBITED. HERE, THE MILITARY JUDGE DISMISSED THE PANEL FOR VIOLATING ARTICLE 25, UCMJ, BUT THE CONVENING AUTHORITY RECONVENED THE EXACT SAME PANEL THE SAME DAY. IS THIS SYSTEMATIC EXCLUSION BASED ON RANK REVERSIBLE ERROR?

Briefs will be filed under Rule 25.

The NMCCA’s opinion is available here and reveals that:

Prior to trial, the defense objected to the exclusion of junior members under convening order #1b-13, which appointed only officer members O-4 and above, enlisted members E-8 and above, and no warrant officers. This panel was detailed after the staff judge advocate (SJA) solicited only these specific categories of senior nominees from subordinate commanders. The SJA provided the CA draft convening order #1b-13 and the applicable questionnaires for consideration. The CA then picked those members as were suggested to him by the SJA without modification. The military judge agreed with the defense’s objection finding that the panel selection process improperly excluded potential members based on rank.

Subsequently, the CA was provided a draft, amended convening order, #1c-13, containing the same members previously detailed under convening order #1b-13. The CA was also furnished with his entire alpha roster of over 8,000 members with instructions that he could substitute any proposed member for someone senior to the accused meeting the Article 25 criteria. After consideration, the CA detailed the same members stating, “I know these individuals personally and selected them specifically because I am convinced they meet the qualifications for membership.”

Slip op. at 5. The military judge found no impropriety in the second convening order and the CCA affirmed.