It’s time again for our annual tradition of end-of-term number crunching.
CAAF heard oral argument in 32 cases this term and issued 32 authored opinions of the court.
The court also issued summary dispositions in 67 cases, including 11 cases involving the comments of Marine Corps military judge Lieutenant Colonel Palmer (discussed here) and 16 cases involving the appointment of Mr. Lawrence Soybel to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (see United States v. Janssen, 73 M.J. 221 (C.A.A.F. Apr. 15, 2014) (CAAFlog case page)).
Note: The summary dispositions total does not include Friday, August 29, 2014 (the last business day of the term) because the online version of CAAF’s daily journal hasn’t yet been updated. I will remove this note (and update these numbers if necessary) when the journal is updated.
Of the 32 authored opinions:
Judge Ohlson joined the court mid-term (discussed here), and Senior Judges Effron and Cox both participated in cases argued before Judge Ohlson’s confirmation. Senior Judge Effron participated in 8 cases and Senior Judge Cox participated in 1 case. Neither Senior Judge authored a majority opinion, however Senior Judge Effron did author a dissenting opinion (in Finch).
The service breakdown reveals an astonishing fact: CAAF did not hear oral argument or issue an authored opinion in a single Navy case. Of the 32 oral arguments and authored opinions:
Air Force:15 (47%).
Army: 14 (44%).
Coast Guard: 1 (3%).
Marine Corps: 2 (6%).
Navy: 0 (0%).
CAAF did issue summary dispositions in 3 Navy cases, deciding all 3 in favor of the Government. Of these 3 summary dispositions, 2 involved administrative issues (correcting the promulgating order in one case (York) and sealing an exhibit in the other (Mora)), and the third (Short) involved a question of the completeness of the record.
The court had a fairly active extraordinary writ docket, with 23 petitions (19 writ-appeals, 2 habeas petitions, and 2 petitions for mandamus). CAAF denied all of these petitions except for one: United States v. Arness, No. No. 14-8014/AF (an Air Force case in which it ordered that briefs be filed (discussed here)).
Calling winners and losers can be tough, but I’m calling 19 (59%) of the term’s authored opinions as wins for the Government. Those 19 cases are: Cimball Sharpton, Danylo, Davis, Finch, Frey, Gutierrez, Hines, Hornback, Jones, Kearns, Leahr, Lee, Mead, Moss, Passut, Payne, Talkington, Treat, and Winckelmann.
Broken down by service, among authored opinions the Government won in:
Each of the judges sided with the Government (see note below) as follows:
- Chief Judge Baker: 23 out of 32 (72%)
- Judge Ryan: 19 out of 32 (59%)
- Judge Stucky: 17 out of 32 (53%)
- Judge Erdmann 17 out of 32 (53%)
- Judge Ohlson 12 out of 23 (52%)
- Senior Judge Effron: 4 out of 8 (50%)
- Senior Judge Cox: 0 out of 1 (0%)
Note: These calculations include Judges Ryan and Stucky as siding with the Defense in Treat (CAAFlog case page), and Chief Judge Baker and Senior Judge Effron as siding with the Defense in Moss (CAAFlog case page). That said, Treat could be read as a unanimous win for the Government (as all five judges would have affirmed the conviction), and Moss could be read as a loss for both sides (as even the dissenters didn’t indicate how they would have decided the granted issues).
Compared to last year’s overview, the Government won a greater percentage of cases decided in authored opinions this year (59%) than last year (50%) (last year’s number excludes the 3 ex writ cases). If keeping a case away from CAAF is considered a win for the Government (a fair characterization I think), then the Navy had a perfect record and retained its position as the service that won the most (last year the Navy won 4 out of 5 cases – 80%). In contrast, the Air Force went from the second greatest percentage of wins last year (5 out of 8 – 62.5%) to the service that won the least this year (7 out of 15 – 47%).