The CAAF goes in circles with a TJAG, ultimately validates trial judge discretion

The CAAF goes in circles with a TJAG, ultimately validates trial judge discretion

A strange case came out of the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA), in which a relatively straight forward case resulted in nearly three years of circuitous court decisions. In United States v. Humphries, Senior Airman Humphries was found guilty by a panel of officers and enlisted members of adultery and consensual sodomy. The airman was sentenced with a Bad Conduct Discharge (unsuspended) and a reduction to E-1.

At issue with the court of appeals was the nature of the airman's discharge. Initially, the court remanded the case back to trial without reviewing the findings with instructions to "[reconsider] the sentence 'with full knowledge as to the upper limit on appropriateness." Specifically, at issue was the nature of the Bad Conduct Discharge; the AFCCA felt that the discharge was unnecessarily severe considering the consensual nature of the crime committed.

As might be expected, The Judge Advocate General (TJAG) appealed this decision to the CAAF, and the court determined that the AFCCA had overstepped their authority and intruded on the trial court's judicial authority. The AFCCA responded by, strangely enough, affirming their original decision on the findings and further stating that the court approved of the TJAG's findings of fact.

Again, the CAAF remanded the decision, and it appears this time the AFCCA has decided to budge. Upon review, the court determined (correctly) that the AFCCA has no authority to suspend a punitive discharge, and affirmed the sentence of the TJAG as held.

United States v. Humphries 71 M.J. 209) (C.A.A.F. 2012)

Categories: AFCCA
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