TRIAL STAGES: Petition for a New Trial: Appellate Review

2008 (Transition)

United States v. Webb, 66 M.J. 89 (an appellate court reviews a military judge’s decision to order a new trial for an abuse of discretion; a military judge abuses her discretion when her findings of fact are clearly erroneous, the court’s decision is influenced by an erroneous view of the law, or the military judge’s decision on the issue at hand is outside the range of choices reasonably arising from the applicable facts and the law).  



United States v. Harris,  61 M.J. 391 (the appropriate standard of review for service courts considering the impact of newly discovered evidence regarding mental responsibility is a reasonable doubt standard: is the court convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that reasonable factfinders would not find by clear and convincing evidence that, at the time of the offense, appellant suffered from a severe mental disease or defect such as to be unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts?).


(because the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces does not have factfinding authority, it does not apply the reasonable doubt standard of the lower court in reviewing requests for new trials on the ground of mental responsibility; rather, it applies the separate standard set forth in RCM 1210(f)(2)(C) that requires that the accused demonstrate that 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).



United States v. Gray
, 51 MJ 1 (Court of Criminal Appeals’ denial of a petition for new trial is reviewed under a clear abuse of discretion standard; an abuse of discretion occurs if the findings of fact upon which a ruling is based are not supported by the record, if incorrect legal principles were used in deciding the petition, or if the lower court’s application of the correct legal principles to the facts of a particular case is clearly unreasonable).

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