Stipulations of fact in Pretrial Agreement Court-Martial Cases

Overview of  the stipulations of fact

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Pretrial agreements in court-martial guilty plea cases

In the case of the United States v. Harrod, 20 M.J. 777 (A.C.M.R. 1985); United States v. Sharper, 17 M.J. 803 (A.C.M.R. 1984), the court held that  the government can require  the accused to agree to both truth and admissibility of matters contained in the stipulation of fact. The stipulation should be unequivocal that counsel and the accused agree not only to the truth of the matters stipulated but that such matters are admissible in evidence against the accused.

In the case of the United States v. Vargas, 29 M.J. 968 (A.C.M.R. 1990). Defense counsel objected at trial to the inclusion of the uncharged misconduct and indicated that the accused only agreed to the stipulation out of fear of losing the deal. Military judge gave the accused an opportunity to withdraw, but the accused elected to adhere to the stipulation; no overreaching by the Government. See also United States v. Mezzanatto, 513 U.S. 196 (1995) (agreement to waive evidentiary provisions are subject to waiver by voluntary agreement of the parties).

Use of confessional stipulation after “busted” providence inquiry are permissible with consent of the accused. 

Otherwise military judge not at liberty to consider matters presented in the unsuccessful attempt to plead guilty. United States v. Matlock, 35 M.J. 895 (A.C.M.R. 1992). Prosecution cannot receive the benefit of the stipulation without the concomitant limitations of the pretrial agreement. See United States v. Cunningham, 36 M.J. 1011 (A.C.M.R. 1993).

False Allegations of Sexual Assault in the Military

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Stipulations in mixed plea cases.

Unless otherwise agreed to by the accused, confessional stipulation in connection with guilty pleas may not be considered by vas to those charges to which accused has pled not guilty (contested charges). United States v. Banks, 36 M.J. 1003 (A.C.M.R. 1993).

Confessional stipulations

A confessional stipulation is the equivalent of entering a guilty plea to a charged offense; accused must knowingly and voluntarily consent to any use of stipulation beyond the limited purpose of facilitating providence inquiry. United States v. Rouviere, No. 9200242 (A.C.M.R. Aug. 24, 1993) (unpub.).

United States v. Craig, 48 M.J. 77 (C.A.A.F. 1998). Military judge erred by advising the accused that her confessional stipulation (which contained facts substantiating both guilty and not guilty pleas to drug offenses) waived her constitutional rights against self-incrimination, to a trial of by the facts, and to confront and cross-examine witnesses against her.

United States v. Dixon, 45 M.J. 104 (C.A.A.F. 1996). Where a stipulation leaves room for the defense to reasonably contest certain elements, and the defense in fact does so, a stipulation is not confessional. Accused entered mixed pleas to stealing mail. He entered into a stipulation of fact, in conjunction with his pretrial agreement, regarding two uncontested specifications, and the Government presented evidence on the remaining two specifications.

Specification 3 involved a larceny of mail matter. The stipulation established that accused removed mail matter from its lawful place and did not intend to return the parcel to the addressee. There was no requirement to do a United States v. Bertelson, 3 M.J. 314 (C.M.A. 1977) inquiry. The stipulation was not “confessional” because it did not effectively establish an express admission that accused’s removal of mail matter was done with an intent to steal.

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