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United States v. Mack

56 M.J. 786 (2002)

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United States v. Mack

United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals

56 M.J. 786 (2002)

Facts

Colonel Lawrence Mack (defendant) was the installation staff chaplain at Fort Bliss. Mack had served for 23 years and had a good record. However, Mack had post-traumatic stress disorder and a gambling addiction relating to his disorder. Over a 17-month period, Mack made payment requests to a military fund for approximately $75,000 of nonexistent orders of religious books and deposited the money in a personal account. Mack then lost the money gambling, sometimes while on duty. When questioned about the payment requests, Mack lied and tried to cover them up. Mack was a senior member of Major General Dennis Cavin’s staff. Cavin frequently attended Mack’s sermons, Cavin’s and Mack’s families socialized, and Mack had officiated Cavin’s daughter’s wedding. Cavin was the convening authority for Mack’s prosecution. Cavin relieved Mack of his duties. Mack asked to be allowed to retire instead of being prosecuted. Cavin denied the request and referred Mack to a general court-martial. However, Cavin offered Mack a pretrial agreement that allowed Mack to seek treatment before beginning his sentence. Cavin also disapproved the part of Mack’s sentence requiring Mack to pay back the stolen money and waived six months of Mack’s automatic pay forfeiture, which allowed Mack’s family to continue receiving Mack’s military pay for the first part of Mack’s confinement. Mack appealed his sentence. On appeal, for the first time, Mack argued that Cavin was disqualified to act as the convening authority for Mack’s prosecution because Cavin was an accuser. Mack argued that Cavin was an accuser because Cavin had (1) a personal relationship with Mack and (2) a professional interest in the prosecution of misconduct by someone on Cavin’s staff.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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