Army Appellate Court Cuts 2-Years Off Sentence Caused by Overreaching Trial Counsel

On July 27, 2015, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) issued a ruling in United States v. Bridges, 74 M.J. 779 (2015) that reduced a panel’s sentence of 6 years to 4 years on account of an overzealous trial counsel that focused on the Accused’s prior acquittal that stemmed from a fifteen-year allegation of rape. In his sentencing argument, the military prosecutor emphasized that the Accused was “predisposed to sexual assault.”  The learning point for military justice practitioners is to move “in limine” prior to the trial on the merits and again on sentencing to preclude such patently unfair arguments. The defense lawyer’s focus should specifically emphasize the poignant danger of unfair prejudice under Bridges and Military Rules of Evidence (MRE) 403. See, e.g.,  Military Justice Reporter dated September 15, 2015.


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