United States v. Wiesen

56 M.J. 172 (2001)

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United States v. Wiesen

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
56 M.J. 172 (2001)

Facts

A general court-martial was convened to try charges against Army Specialist Robert Wiesen (defendant) for the attempted sexual assault of a child. By rank, the most senior member of the 10-member court-martial panel was a brigade commander. The brigade commander supervised six of the other court-martial members to varying degrees. A vote of seven members was enough to convict Wiesen. Wiesen moved to strike the brigade commander from the panel for cause. Wiesen argued that the six servicemembers’ training and experiences would cause them to subconsciously follow their commander’s lead in the case. Wiesen was concerned that he could be unfairly convicted if the brigade commander believed that Wiesen was guilty and the six members followed their supervising officer’s lead, like they would in any other situation. Although deployments had shrunk the pool of possible alternates, no evidence was presented that the brigade commander could not be replaced by a suitable alternate. However, the military judge interviewed the six members, and each member swore that he would not be influenced by a superior’s presence on the panel. Based on these answers, the military judge denied Wiesen’s motion to remove the brigade commander for cause. Wiesen then used his peremptory challenge to remove the brigade commander, but he stated that he would have used his challenge on a different member if his motion had been granted. Wiesen was convicted. On appeal, Wiesen argued that the brigade commander should have been removed for cause.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Baker, J.)

Dissent (Crawford, C.J.)

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