United States v. Gorski

47 M.J. 370 (1997)

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United States v. Gorski

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
47 M.J. 370 (1997)

Facts

Prior to 1996, a court-martial had the discretion to sentence a servicemember to a forfeiture of pay, subject to the approval of the convening authority. Pay forfeitures, like reductions in grade, became effective on the date the convening authority approved the sentence. On April 1, 1996, Congress added Article 58b to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Article 58b established mandatory pay forfeitures during confinement or parole for offenders sentenced to a confinement of more than six months and for offenders sentenced to a confinement of less than six months plus a dishonorable or bad-conduct discharge. Congress also changed the effective date for forfeitures and reductions in grade. The new effective date was either the date of the convening authority’s approval or 14 days after the date the sentence was adjudged, whichever was earlier. The original bill proposing these amendments contained a savings clause that exempted offenses committed prior to the effective date of the legislation. However, as enacted, the law only exempted sentences adjudged before the effective date. Senior Airman Michael D. Gorski (defendant) was convicted by court-martial of offenses committed prior to April 1, 1996. On May 29, 1996, pursuant to the UCMJ amendments, Gorski was sentenced to punishments including a total forfeiture of pay and a reduction in grade to E-1. The convening authority approved Gorski’s sentence on July 15, 1996. The effective date for Gorski’s sentence was June 12, 1996, more than one month earlier than it would have been if the amendments had not been applied retroactively. The United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, and the United States government (plaintiff) appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Everett, J.)

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