United States, Appellee




Douglas E. HOOD, Jr., Private

U.S. Army, Appellant


No. 96-0548


Crim. App. No. 9500624



United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces


Argued March 4, 1997


Decided September 12, 1997






For Appellant: Captain Norman R. Zamboni (argued); Colonel John T. Phelps, II and Lieutenant Colonel Michael L. Walters (on brief); Lieutenant Colonel John T. Rucker and Captain Michael E. Hatch.


For Appellee: Captain Robert F. Resnick (argued); Colonel John M. Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Eva M. Novak, and Captain Joanne P. Tetreault (on brief).


Military Judge: Peter E. Brownback III

Tried at Fort Bragg, North Carolina


Opinion of the Court


GIERKE, Judge:

A military judge sitting as a general court-martial convicted appellant, in accordance with his pleas, of one specification of larceny and two specifications of false swearing, in violation of Articles 121 and 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 USC §§ 921 and 934, respectively. The adjudged and approved sentence provides for a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 18 months, and total forfeitures. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the findings and sentence in an unpublished opinion.

Our Court granted review of the following issue:



We hold that defense counselís performance was deficient because he failed to consult with his client concerning a clemency petition, but appellant was not prejudiced by the deficiency.

At the beginning of appellantís court-martial on March 23, 1995, his detailed defense counsel, Captain (CPT) Hollers, informed the military judge that he would be leaving the Army on May 1, 1995. Major (MAJ) M, the Senior Defense Counsel, was seated at the counsel table and announced to the military judge that he had detailed himself to represent appellant after the trial. The military judge asked appellant, "Have you talked to him? Do you at least know who he is?" Appellant responded, "Yes, sir." The military judge then asked appellant, "Do you agree to have him as your post-trial attorney?" Appellant responded, "Yes, sir, I do." MAJ M was then excused from participation in the court-martial, left the counsel table, and withdrew to the spectator area.

At the end of the court-martial, after the sentence was announced, the military judge asked appellant, "[D]o you remember having MAJ [M] in here?" Appellant responded, "Yes, I do, sir." The military judge then asked, "Heís the one you want Ė who has been detailed to assist you in the post-trial process; is that right?" Appellant responded, "Yes, sir."

MAJ M was served with the record of trial and the staff judge advocateís post-trial recommendation. On behalf of appellant, he submitted a clemency request based on appellantís problem-filled family background, his motherís deteriorating health, and her need for appellantís support and care. In support of the clemency request, MAJ M attached three letters from appellantís mother, letters from several doctors describing appellantís motherís poor health, and a three-page "rough draft" of appellantís unsworn statement that appellant had presented at the court-martial.

The first of the three letters from appellantís mother, dated April 4, 1995, begins by thanking CPT Hollers, the two noncommissioned officers who escorted appellant to the trial, and two other noncommissioned officers "for their professionalism, courtesy and respect shown [her] during those proceedings." She then complained of the "rudeness and lack of respect" shown by two captains, a first sergeant, a sergeant, and a "chief." Appellantís mother complained that they snickered, laughed, and made snide remarks in her presence during the trial and photographed her son while he was handcuffed. She asked that they be reprimanded and required to apologize. She concluded her letter by writing, "I was also upset so much more by their misconduct, than the actual proceedings, that I forgot to thank the judge."

In her letter of April 13, 1995, appellantís mother referred to the "horror" in appellantís personal life and "how confused he was about everything mentally shoved down inside all his life." She also informed the convening authority that she was "totally and permanently disabled" and had incurred $50,000 in medical bills that were not covered by insurance.

In her letter of April 16, 1995, appellantís mother transmitted the "rough draft" of appellantís unsworn statement at trial. She described appellant as "a responsible, caring, contributing young man capable of many things." She said that "[w]ith proper therapy, [appellant] can learn to dig all those things out and deal with them

. . . and heal." She concluded by saying that appellant "is worthy of consideration for mercy. And I so desperately need him home."

In two affidavits submitted to the court below, appellant asserts that MAJ M did not discuss the clemency package with him before submitting it. Appellant also asserts that he did not want the April 4, 1995, letter from his mother submitted to the convening authority because it "was extremely negative in nature," because she "expressed her belief that [his] court proceeding was unfair, and that the trial counsel and other government representatives were rude and unprofessional." Regarding the "rough draft" of the sworn statement, appellant does not complain about its content, but only its appearance. He asserts that it was unsigned, improperly formated, contained bad grammar, and "looks like it was written by a fourth grader." Appellant also asserts that he had clemency matters he would have submitted, but that he was denied an opportunity to do so.

Unlike the defense counsel in United States v. Miller, 45 MJ 149 (1996), MAJ M established an attorney-client relationship with appellant, as required by RCM 1106(f)(2), Manual for Courts-martial, United States (1995 ed.). MAJ Mís appearance in court, the military judgeís questioning of appellant, and appellantís affirmative agreement to accept MAJ M as substitute counsel were sufficient to comply with RCM 1106(f)(2).

Because appellantís two post-trial affidavits are unrebutted, we accept as true appellantís assertion that MAJ M did not discuss the contents of the clemency package with him. We hold that MAJ Mís failure to consult with appellant and submission of clemency materials to which appellant objected was deficient performance within the meaning of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984).

Defense counsel has primary responsibility for strategic and tactical decisions, "after consultation with the client where feasible and appropriate." United States v. MacCulloch, 40 MJ 236, 239 (CMA 1994), quoting Standard 4-5.2(b), ABA Standards for Criminal Justice, The Defense Function (3d ed. 1993). When preparing a post-trial clemency package, defense counsel is "required to make an evaluative judgment on what items . . . [are] to be submitted to the convening authority." United States v. MacCulloch, supra. If defense counsel thinks that certain matters should not be submitted, he should so advise his client. Id. Defense counsel may not, however, refuse to submit matters offered by the client or submit matters over the clientís objection. See United States v. Hicks, No. 96-1212, ___ MJ ___, (9) ("Just as the accused controls the right to testify at trial, . . . the accused also has the right to submit or not submit material to the convening authority over defense counselís objection."); United States v. Lewis, 42 MJ 1, 4 (1995) ("Counselís duty is to advise, but the final decision as to what, if anything, to submit rests with the accused.").

To prevail on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, appellant must show that his counselís deficient performance prejudiced his case. To satisfy this burden, he "must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counselís unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.

We hold that appellant has not carried his burden of showing prejudice. Although appellant characterizes his motherís April 4 letter as "extremely negative," it was a mix of positive and negative comments. Appellantís mother expressed regret at neglecting to thank the judge. She praised appellantís defense counsel and appellantís guards. While she complained of rude and inappropriate behavior by some military members, we conclude that her complaints could not have prejudiced appellant when considered in the context of her entire letter. We hold that appellant has not shown a "reasonable probability" of more favorable action by the convening authority if the letter had not been submitted.

With respect to the "rough draft" of appellantís statement, we agree with appellant that the appearance of the document could have been improved. Appellant has not shown, however, a "reasonable probability" that the convening authority would have granted clemency but for the quality of appellantís typing and grammar.

With respect to appellantís assertion that he had additional clemency materials to submit, we hold that he has not met his burden of showing prejudice because he has not identified any matters that he would have submitted. See United States v. Moseley, 35 MJ 481, 486 (CMA 1992) (Gierke, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (appellant must proffer what he would have submitted).

The decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.

Chief Judge COX and Judges CRAWFORD and EFFRON concur.


SULLIVAN, Judge (concurring in the result):


The majority is hard-pressed to distinguish this case from United States v. MacCulloch, 40 MJ 236 (CMA 1994). I dissented in that case, and my affirmance in appellantís case is consistent with that vote. Id. at 240-41 (Sullivan, J., dissenting). I am not sure that the majority can say the same.