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National Crime Victim Law Institute

New and Noteworthy

Become a member of NCVLI’s membership association, the National Alliance of Victims’ Rights Attorneys (NAVRA), to receive timely email updates of New & Noteworthy court opinions and to access a comprehensive database of victims’ rights related case summaries. Visit www.navra.org to learn more.

  • United States v. Roblero, No. ACM 38874, 2017 WL 816145 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 17, 2017)

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    At a general court-martial, defendant was convicted of two specifications of sexual assault by causing bodily harm, and received a sentence of a dishonorable discharge, forfeitures, reduction to E-1, and a reprimand.  On appeal, defendant argued, inter alia, that his right to due process during sentencing was violated when the military judge allowed the victim to provide a written and oral unsworn statement to the court-martial members.  The United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, concluding that no error materially prejudicial to the rights of defendant occurred.  In reaching its conclusion, the court observed that the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3771, has been incorporated into Article 6b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The court found that Article 6b affords crime victims the “right to be reasonably heard … at [a] sentencing hearing related to the offense.”  The court noted that after defendant’s trial, the President promulgated Rule for Courts-Martial 1001A, which expressly allows a victim to exercise her right to be reasonably heard by way of an unsworn statement orally, in writing, or both; the contents of a victim’s statement “is limited to victim impact and matters in mitigation.”  The court found that the military judge did not abuse his discretion in permitting the victim to provide her oral and written unsworn statement.  The court did find that the military judge abused his discretion in permitting the victim’s unsworn statement to include her opinion regarding defendant’s need for sex offender treatment and a recommendation of a particular sentence, however, the court determined that defendant was not prejudiced because the victim had advocated for a minimum-term confinement sentence, and defendant was sentenced to no confinement.  For these and other reasons, the court affirmed the findings and sentence. 

  • United States v. Rowe, No. ACM 38880, 2017 WL 815200 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. Feb. 8, 2017)

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    A general court-martial convicted defendant of attempted abusive sexual contact, attempted forcible sodomy, abusive sexual contact, and forcible sodomy, and he received a sentence of a dishonorable discharge and a 20-year confinement.  On appeal, defendant argued, inter alia, that the military judge abused his discretion by allowing one of the victims to provide an unsworn statement during the presentencing proceedings.  The United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, concluding that the military judge did not abuse his discretion in this case.  In reaching its conclusion, the court observed that the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3771, has been incorporated into Article 6b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The court found Article 6b affords crime victims the “right to be reasonably heard … at [a] sentencing hearing related to the offense.”  Noting that federal courts have consistently interpreted the CVRA’s right to be reasonably heard at sentencing to include the right to provide an unsworn statement during presentencing proceedings, the court determined that the military judge did not abuse its discretion in reaching the same conclusion.  The court also determined that the right to be reasonably heard at sentencing must mean “something different” than the pre-Article 6b practice of allowing victims to “testify” during sentencing.  For these and other reasons, the court affirmed the military judge’s findings and sentence.