Last year, in United States v. Collins, 78 M.J. 530 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. Jul 23, 2018) (discussed here), the Air Force CCA applied CAAF’s decision in United States v. Mangahas, 77 M.J. 220 (C.A.A.F. Feb. 6, 2018) (CAAFlog case page), to reverse a rape conviction and dismiss the charge. The CCA took that action because – based on Mangahas – the statute of limitations in Collins’ case expired more than ten years before he was charged.
The Judge Advocate General of the Air Force certified the case to CAAF (discussed here), questioning whether Mangahas applies and whether Collins could raise the statute of limitations for the first time on appeal. CAAF answered both of those questions in favor of Collins in United States v. Briggs, 78 M.J. 289 (C.A.A.F. Feb. 22, 2019) (CAAFlog case page), and last month the court summarily affirmed the Air Force CCA’s decision dismissing the charge (noted here).
The Air Force Government Appellate Division, however, filed a motion asking CAAF to stay its decision. Furthermore, throughout the entire process the Air Force refused to release Collins from confinement (he had been sentenced to confinement for 198 months, total forfeitures, reduction to E-1, and a dishonorable discharge). As a result, last week Collins filed a writ petition at CAAF seeking an order that he be released from confinement.
Today CAAF granted that order:
Upon consideration of Appellant’s motion to stay this Court’s order of March 12, 2019, affirming the decision of the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals or to extend the time to comply with that order, Appellee’s answer, and Appellee’s petition for extraordinary relief in the nature of a writ of mandamus or in the alternative, a writ of habeas corpus, we note that Appellee is still confined despite the sole charge having been dismissed by the lower court. We also note that Appellant has not petitioned for reconsideration of this Court’s order. In that context, and where there is no further action to be taken by the President or the Secretary, the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force “shall instruct the convening authority to take action in accordance with” the decision of the lower court and the order of this Court. Article 67 (e), Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 10 U.S.C. § 867(e) (2012). Finally, this Court has jurisdiction to entertain the petition and issue the writ of habeas corpus because the case is before us on direct review and appellate review is not yet complete under Article 57(c)(l)(B)(iii)(I), UCMJ (as amended by the Military Justice Act of 2016, the legislatively designated short title for Division E-Uniform Code of Military Justice Reform of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017). National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, Pub. L. No. 114-328, § 5302(a), 130 Stat. 2000, 2922-23 (2016) (effective date Jan. 1, 2019). Accordingly, it is, by the Court, this 3rd day of April, 2019,
That Appellant’s motion to stay or extend time is denied; and Appellee’ s petition for a writ of habeas corpus is granted. All rights, privileges, and property of which Appellee has been deprived are hereby ordered restored. The Judge Advocate General shall direct the immediate release of Appellee from confinement.