TRIAL STAGES: Merits:  Pleas, generally

2017 (October Term)

United States v. Honea, 77 M.J. 181 (when an accused pleads not guilty to an offense, it is the government’s responsibility to identify the charges against the accused). 

2010 (September Term)

United States v. Flores, 69 M.J. 366 (a guilty plea and related statements to one offense cannot be admitted to prove any element of a separate offense; however, this prohibition does not apply when using a plea to a lesser included offense to prove a common fact or element of a greater offense).

2008 (September Term)

United States v. Smead, 68 M.J. 44 (where a plea is not knowing and voluntary, it has been obtained in violation of due process and is therefore void).


United States v. Shelton, 64 M.J. 32 (RCM 910(a)(2) permits an accused to enter a conditional plea of guilty, which reserves the right, on further review or appeal, to review of the adverse determination of any specified pretrial motion; it also states that if an accused prevails on further review or appeal, he shall be allowed to withdraw the plea of guilty; RCM 910(a)(2) preserves and protects appellant’s right to make the government prove its case with admissible evidence). 


United States v. Kaiser, 58 MJ 146 (in a mixed plea case, in the absence of a specific request made by the accused on the record, members of a court-martial should not be informed of any prior pleas of guilty until after findings on the remaining contested offenses are made).

(a military judge errs by providing a flyer to a panel that contains the specifications to which an accused has pleaded guilty, where there is no specific request made by the accused that such advance notification be given to the members).

(error in the military judge providing advance notification to members of guilty pleas in a mixed plea case directly implicates the presumption of innocence; an accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence throughout his trial; he has a right to have his guilt or innocence of the contested specifications determined by the members solely on the basis of legal and competent evidence introduced at trial and not on other grounds, i.e., his pleas of guilty to other similar specifications).

(where the court-martial panel is handed a flyer indicating that an accused has been charged with numerous specifications of criminal conduct and is then told that he has already pleaded guilty to some of the specifications, and where the panel is not advised at that time of the legal effect of those guilty pleas, but instead hears trial counsel intimate that they might serve as a basis for "inferring" something, these circumstances form a part of the "filter" through which the panel views the evidence presented at trial and poses a heightened risk that the members feel invited, consciously or subconsciously, to draw an impermissible inference from the accused's guilty pleas; the error is not harmless whether it is considered constitutional or non-constitutional in nature). 

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