15 September 2007

By Your Leave

A military judge accepted an accused's plea by exceptions that was ambiguous. The specification stated as follows:

In that Private Michelle S. Karajman, U.S. Army, did, at or near Fort Riley, Kansas, on or about 30 April 2006, behave herself with disrespect towards Second Lieutenant [(2LT)] David Cook, her superior commissioned officer, then known by the accused to be her superior commissioned officer, by telling the said Second Lieutenant Cook to, “get the fuck out of my face,” or words to that effect, and by throwing a package of cigarettes at the said Second Lieutenant Cook.
The defense counsel entered the following plea: “Guilty, except the words, ‘by...at the said Second Lieutenant Cook.’ To the excepted words, Not Guilty.” Although the word by appears 3 times in the specification, the judge never clarified which "by" the defense counsel was referring to, and found her "[g]uilty, except the words ‘by...at the Second Lieutenant Cook.’ Of the excepted words, Not Guilty.”

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the conviction, but affirmed the sentence after performing a Sales analysis. United States v. Karajman, No. 20061003 (A. Ct. Crim. App. Sep. 10, 2007).

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