United States v. Boyce

76 M.J. 242 (2017)

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United States v. Boyce

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
76 M.J. 242 (2017)

Facts

In 2013, Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin, the commander of the Third Air Force, faced widespread public criticism for his failure to prosecute sexual-assault accusations against service members. At the end of that year, Franklin was advised that newly appointed Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James had lost confidence in him and was planning to fire him unless he voluntarily retired at a lower grade. Despite the loss of confidence, Franklin’s superiors did not direct him to stop making referral decisions. In January 2004, Franklin referred charges against Rodney Boyce (defendant) to a general court-martial. Two victims had accused Boyce of sexual assault, their accusations were corroborated by physical evidence, and there was evidence that Boyce had committed similar offenses in the past. Two days after making the referral, Franklin announced his retirement. Boyce filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that Franklin’s referral had resulted from unlawful command influence. Franklin submitted an affidavit to the court in which he denied that his referral had been affected by any outside influence. In a separate affidavit, Franklin acknowledged that there was likely an appearance of unlawful command influence. The military judge, who described Franklin as “bombproof,” found neither actual nor apparent unlawful command influence. The military judge reasoned that Franklin had a long history of ignoring political pressure and, because of his impending retirement, had nothing to gain or lose by referring or declining to refer Boyce’s charges. The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, and Boyce appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ohlson, J.)

Dissent (Ryan, J.)

Dissent (Stucky, J.)

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