Defense counsel may argue for punitive discharge if accused consents
The accused’s consent must be indicated on record. United States v. Holcomb , 43
M.R. 149 (C.M.A. 1971); United States v. Williams , 21 M.J. 524 (A.C.M.R.1985) (argument urging discharge presumed prejudicial unless accused consents); United States v. Robinson , 25 M.J. 43 (C.M.A. 1987) (erroneous argument urging military judge to adjudge a suspended discharge, despite accused’s desire to remain in the service, held not to be prejudicial).
The standard for reversal when a defense counsel concedes a punitive discharge without consent is whether it is reasonably likely that the concession affected the sentence. United States v. Quick , 59 M.J. 383, 387 (C.A.A.F. 2004).
The military judge should question the accused to determine whether he concurs with defense counsel’s argument for a discharge. United States v. McNally , 16 M.J. 32, 35 (C.M.A. 1983) (Cooke, J. concurring). The Military Judges’ Benchbook contains a colloquy at para. 2-7-27.
The military judge need not question the accused if a discharge is highly likely. United States v. Volmar , 15 M.J. 339 (C.M.A. 1983). Findings Argument (Art and Law)
See also United States v. Bolkan , 55 M.J. 425 (C.A.A.F. 2001); United States v. Pineda, 54 M.J. 298 (C.A.A.F. 2001); United States v. Adame , 57 M.J. 812 (N- M. Ct. Crim. App. 2003).
Defense counsel may argue only for a bad-conduct discharge in lieu of confinement but not a dishonorable discharge ora punitive discharge. United States v. Dotson , 9 M.J. 542 (C.G.C.M.R. 1980); United States v. McMillan , 42
M.R. 601 (A.C.M.R. 1970)
Military Sexual Assault Defenses: Mistake of Fact Explained by a Military Defense Lawyer