Opinion Analysis: Under somewhat unique circumstances, the kidnapping conviction is legally sufficient in United States v. Acevedo
CAAF decided the Army case of United States v. Acevedo, 77 M.J. 185, No. 17-0224/AR (CAAFlog case page) (link to slip op.), on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. Focusing on the “somewhat unique circumstances” of the case, a majority of CAAF concludes that the conviction of kidnapping by inveiglement (luring or enticing) is legally sufficient, and affirms it and the decision of the Army CCA.
Judge Sparks writes for the court, joined by all but Judge Ryan who dissents.
Staff Sergeant (E-6) Acevedo was convicted by a general court-martial composed of members with enlisted representation of kidnapping Private (E-2) AM by inveiglement, in violation of Article 134. Acevedo was acquitted of other offenses, including offenses related to sexual acts with AM that occurred after the alleged kidnapping. The Army CCA affirmed the findings and sentence without issuing a written opinion.
CAAF then granted review of four issues. Three were Dalmazzi/Ortiz trailer issues. The fourth questioned:
Whether the evidence is legally insufficient to support a charge of kidnapping by inveiglement.
A majority of CAAF finds that the evidence is sufficient. Judge Ryan, however, rejects this holding as “contrary to the precedent of the Supreme Court, the federal courts of appeals that have considered the issue, and our own Court,” and she invokes CAAF’s “heightened responsibility to ensure that servicemembers receive fair and impartial justice, instead of a rough form of justice.” Diss. op at 4 (marks and citation omitted).