Argument Preview: More fallout over the reaction to Air Force Lt Gen Franklin’s exercise of command discretion, in United States v. Boyce, No. 16-0546/AF
CAAF will hear oral argument in the Air Force case of United States v. Boyce, No. 16-0546/AF (CAAFlog case page), on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. With an issue specified by the court, CAAF will determine whether the appellant’s court-martial was affected by unlawful command influence:
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force advised the convening authority that, unless he retired, the Secretary of the Air Force would fire him. Was the convening authority’s subsequent referral of charges unlawfully influenced by the threat to his position and career?
The convening authority at issue was Air Force Lieutenant General Craig Franklin, whose exercise of command discretion under Article 60(c) to set aside the sexual assault conviction of Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson in 2013 was our #5 Military Justice Story of 2013. After Lt Gen Franklin acted in the Wilkerson case, and after he ordered the pretrial dismissal of charges in another sexual assault case (that eventually went to trial and resulted in an acquittal), Lt Gen Franklin referred Airman Boyce’s case for trial by general court-martial.
There were multiple charges preferred against Boyce, and he was ultimately convicted of rape and battery of his wife. Numerous subordinates recommended that Lt Gen Franklin refer the charges to a general court-martial, including Boyce’s Squadron Commander, the Staff Judge Advocate to the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority, the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority himself, and Lt Gen Franklin’s Staff Judge Advocate. Nevertheless, Airman Boyce’s defense asserted at trial, on appeal at the AFCCA, and now before CAAF that the referral decision was the product of unlawful influence.