2018 (October Term)

United States v. Frost, 79 M.J. 104 (the government that bears the burden of demonstrating that the admission of erroneous evidence is harmless). 

(for preserved nonconstitutional evidentiary errors, the test for prejudice is whether the error had a substantial influence on the findings; in conducting the prejudice analysis, an appellate court weighs: (1) the strength of the government’s case, (2) the strength of the defense case, (3) the materiality of the evidence in question, and (4) the quality of the evidence in question). 

(in this case, the government failed to meet its burden that the erroneous admission of the alleged victim’s initial statement as a prior consistent statement was harmless and did not have a substantial influence on the guilty findings where (1) the government’s case was weak, (2) the defense presented a fairly robust case on behalf of appellant, and (3) the materiality and quality of the improperly admitted evidence was likely substantial because it went to the heart of the matter in dispute, the credibility of the alleged victim). 

2010 (September Term)

United States v. Gaddis, 70 M.J. 248 (the term unfair prejudice in the context of MRE 403 speaks to the capacity of some concededly relevant evidence to lure the factfinder into declaring guilt on a ground different from proof specific to the offense charged; MRE 403 addresses prejudice to the integrity of the trial process, not prejudice to a particular party or witness). 

2008 (September Term)

United States v. Sanders, 67 M.J. 344 (during the sentencing phase of a court-martial, any error in the admission of a handwritten letter found in appellant’s pretrial confinement cell that contained a farrago of bequests, assertions, excuses, and advice, some of which attacked the military justice system and accused the military judge of favoring the prosecution, did not substantially influence the adjudged sentence and did not materially prejudice the substantial rights of appellant where the military judge stated that she would not consider the personal attack on her contained therein, where there is no indication that the military judge gave significant weight to the rest of the letter in arriving at the adjudged sentence, where appellant only received confinement for 14 years when the maximum sentence included confinement for life without eligibility for parole, and where appellant’s crimes were severe).


United States v. Gray, 51 MJ 1 (photographs of appellant’s victims were not unduly gruesome and prejudicial in multiple, violent murder case, and probative value was not substantially outweighed by prejudicial effect).

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