Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Appellant Seeks CAAF Writ for ACCA

On Monday, the Appellant in the ping-pong (due to the ACCA-CAAF-ACCA volleys) case that is US v. Gaskins filed a motion and petition seeking a writ of mandamus against the judges in the majority on the Army Court of Criminal Appeals' en banc panel that issued an opinion in his case last month. The latest ACCA opinion (attached to the petition) remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing after an unsuccessful campaign to have a trial court attempt to reconstruct the defense's primary sentencing exhibit (his "Good Soldier Book;" we called it the "I love me" exhibits in the USAF--basically any good paperwork received during a military career). This writ is to prevent the sentencing rehearing from occurring.

The stakes here are high for Gaskins and the government. Since the missing exhibit couldn't be recreated, Gaskins' dishonorable discharge and 11.5 of the 12 years of confinement that he's currently serving for having carnal knowledge of the pre-teen dependent of another soldier and other sexual crimes with an adult could be permanently wiped out. This is because the record of trial must be "substantially verbatim" in order for a punitive discharge and any confinement over 6 months to be approved. Given Gaskins' E-6 grade and time in service (9 years) at the time of his court-martial, no doubt the missing defense exhibit was not a slim document, meaning the record won't be found "substantially verbatim" without it.

I was the defense counsel on a case similar to this, and I can honestly say I wouldn't want to be in the government's shoes on this one right about now. Meanwhile, Gaskins remains in confinement.