Article 32 Investigating Officers

Discussion of article 32 investigating officers as other court-martial personnel:

United States v. Holt, 52 M.J. 173 (C.A.A.F. 1999).

Article 32 investigating officer recommended accused’s case be referred capital for his alleged murder of a fellow biker. After referral, the Article 32 investigating officer attended a forensic evidence course and, upon returning to the command, gave trial counsel the name and phone number of a forensic expert. Ultimately, this expert testified for Government that the spatter patterns on jeans seized from the accused were consistent with a stabbing. CAAF noted that an “investigating officer is disqualified” from acting subsequently “in the same case in any other capacity” under RCM 405(d)(1), and that his provision of information solely to the assigned prosecutor may have created at least the appearance of impropriety by providing trial counsel with information that was neither transmitted to the commander who ordered the investigation nor served on the accused. Nevertheless, the court found no prejudicial error that would warrant giving the accused a new trial; the decision to submit the jeans for testing and to call the expert witness were solely the decisions of the trial counsel.

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