TRIAL STAGES: Petition for a New Trial: Newly Discovered Evidence

2010 (September Term)

United States v. Hull, 70 M.J. 145 (requests for a new trial, and thus rehearings and reopenings of trial proceedings, are generally disfavored, and are granted only if a manifest injustice would result absent a new trial, rehearing, or reopening based on proffered newly discovered evidence). 

United States v. Luke, 69 M.J. 309 (RCM 1210(f)(2) sets forth the grounds for granting a new trial based on newly discovered evidence; specifically, a new trial shall not be granted on the grounds of newly discovered evidence unless the petition shows that (1) the evidence was discovered after the trial, (2) the evidence is not such that it would have been discovered by the petitioner at the time of trial in the exercise of due diligence, and (3) the newly discovered evidence, if considered by a court-martial in the light of all other pertinent evidence, would probably produce a substantially more favorable result for the accused).

 

(with respect to whether a new trial should be granted based on newly discovered evidence, the reviewing court must make a credibility determination, insofar as it must determine whether the newly discovered evidence, if considered by a court-martial in the light of all other pertinent evidence, would probably produce a substantially more favorable result for the accused; the reviewing court does not determine whether the proffered evidence is true; nor does it determine historical facts; it merely decides if the evidence is sufficiently believable to make a more favorable result probable). 

 

(newly discovered evidence that forensic chemist who conducted serology analysis of the evidence in appellantís case was later disciplined for lack of thoroughness and mishandling evidence in other cases did not make appellantís conviction for indecent assault unreliable so as to require a new trial; there was no indication that the evidence had been contaminated during the serological examination in appellantís case, and while evidence of the forensic chemistís misconduct could have been used for impeachment as to his competence, it related only to the performance of the serology screening and not to the DNA tests, which were conducted by another expert; absent any showing of the probability of contamination in the serology screening, the newly discovered evidence would probably not have produced a substantially more favorable result).

2008 (Transition)


United States v. Webb, 66 M.J. 89 (prior to authentication, a military judge has authority under Article 39(a), UCMJ, and RCM 1102(b)(2) to convene a post-trial session to consider newly discovered evidence and to take whatever remedial action is appropriate). 

 

2005
 

United States v. Meghdadi, 60 M.J. 438 (if evidence is discovered after trial which would constitute grounds for a new trial under RCM 1210(f), this might be considered a matter which arises after trial and which substantially affects the legal sufficiency of any findings of guilty or the sentence within the meaning of RCM 1102(b)(2); however, even if the drafters of the Manual did not intend such an interpretation of this Rule, we still are persuaded that Article 39(a) of the Code empowers the military judge to convene a post-trial session to consider newly discovered evidence and to take whatever remedial action is appropriate). 

 

United States v. Harris, 61 M.J. 391 (RCM 1210(f)(2) provides that a new trial shall not be granted on the grounds of newly discovered evidence unless the petition demonstrates that (1) the evidence was discovered after the trial; (2) the evidence is not such that it would have been discovered by the petitioner at the time of trial in the exercise of due diligence; and (3) the newly discovered evidence, if considered by a court-martial in the light of all other pertinent evidence, would probably produce a substantially more favorable result for the accused).

 

(the accused exercised due diligence, as required for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence of his mental state at the time of the alleged offenses, even if he failed to disclose information about his mental state at the pretrial sanity board, where his counsel requested such a board).   

 

(in light of the newly discovered post-trial evidence regarding the accusedís mental illness at the time of the offenses, the competing views as to its impact on responsibility, and the defense counselís consequent inability to prepare and fully develop an affirmative defense of mental responsibility prior to trial, this evidence would probably produce a substantially more favorable result for the accused on the contested offenses, thus fulfilling the requirements for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence).   

 

1999

United States v. Gray, 51 MJ 1 (to warrant a new trial on the grounds of newly discovered evidence, appellant must show:  (1) the evidence was discovered after the trial; (2) the evidence is not such that it would have been discovered by the petitioner at the time of trial in the exercise of due diligence; and (3) the newly discovered evidence, if considered by a court-martial in the light of all other pertinent evidence, would probably produce a substantially more favorable result for the accused).

(in reviewing petition for new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence relating to a capital accusedís mental condition and state, the reviewing authority must also determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether a reasonable factfinder, considering the totality of the evidence, would be convinced by clear and convincing evidence that petitioner lacked mental responsibility for his crimes or should not get the death penalty for them).

(lower court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellantís petition for new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence:  (1) organic brain damage by itself does not equate to a lack of mental responsibility and its discovery after trial does not necessarily require a new trial; (2) conflicting expert opinion on accusedís mental state does not necessarily require a rehearing; (3) there was some evidence that organic brain damage existed prior to trial; (4) post-trial evidence was disputed as to the extent of organic brain damage; and, (5) post-trial evidence was speculative on effect of mental condition on appellant at the time of the offenses, and it too was disputed).


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