United States v. Collier

67 M.J. 347 (2009)

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United States v. Collier

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
67 M.J. 347 (2009)


Aviation Machinist’s Mate Third Class Kimberly Collier (defendant) was the tool custodian for her Navy helicopter squadron. Collier had a four-month romantic, homosexual relationship with Hospitalman Second Class C. During this relationship, Collier lived with C in C’s house. The relationship ended badly, and Collier eventually asked her command for help retrieving some of her personal belongings from C’s house. C claimed that when she went to collect Collier’s belongings, C discovered 65 tools with a code for Collier’s command etched on them. However, the tools were ordinary ones that could be purchased anywhere, and one of the tools that C returned was an etcher. Further, a visual inspection was conducted of Collier’s command’s tool cabinet shortly before C’s alleged discovery, and that inspection did not indicate that any tools were missing, let alone such a large number. Still, Collier was charged with allegedly stealing the tools from her command. While the charges were pending, Collier slashed C’s car tire. Collier admitted to the slashing and was also charged with obstructing justice by threatening a witness. At trial, Collier’s attorney claimed that C had been motivated to frame Collier for the larceny by a romantic relationship gone bad. Collier also claimed that she had slashed C’s tire due to bad feelings about the romantic relationship and not to try to threaten a witness. However, the prosecution (plaintiff) filed a motion in limine to prevent Collier’s attorney from asking C at trial about any alleged homosexual, romantic, or sexual relationship between the women. The trial judge allowed Collier’s attorney to examine C about whether the women had a particularly close friendship that had gone bad but prohibited any questions about whether the relationship was sexual, homosexual, intimate, or romantic. In closing arguments, the prosecution argued that a friendship turned sour was not a credible basis for framing someone, and Collier was convicted. Collier appealed, arguing that her Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against her had been violated because she had not been allowed to cross-examine C about the true nature of their relationship. The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction, and Collier appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ryan, J.)

Dissent (Baker, J.)

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