MILITARY JUSTICE PERSONNEL: Court Members: Impeachment of Verdict / Sentence


United States v. Lambert, 55 MJ 293 (a military accused has no Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury; however, the Sixth Amendment requirement that the jury be impartial applies to court-martial members and covers not only the selection of individual jurors, but also their conduct during the trial proceedings and the subsequent deliberations).

(a panel member cannot be questioned about his or her verdict but can be questioned about the introduction of extraneous information into the deliberative process).

(in making the determination whether to investigate potential grounds for impeaching a verdict and what kind of investigation to make, as well as whether and to what extent the conduct was prejudicial, the trial court has wide discretion; the military judge’s decisions in this context are reviewed for abuse of discretion).

(neither the UCMJ nor the Manual gives the defense the right to individually question the members, and this includes questioning the members concerning their conduct during the proceedings and deliberations).

(military judge did not abuse his discretion in denying a defense request to individually question members about a book entitled "Guilty As Sin", which one member had in the deliberation room, where the military judge did question the member who possessed the book and established: (1) the fictional novel played no role in the deliberations; (2) no member other than its owner possessed the novel; (3) the novel was present for only 2 of the 10 hours of deliberations; (4) the novel was not referred to at any time during the deliberations; (5) no member violated the instructions not to consult any other source as to the law or matters involved in the case; (6) defense counsel failed to articulate any way in which the military judge’s questions were inadequate; and (7) defense counsel did not make an offer of proof as to other areas that would be addressed in individually questioning the members).

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