Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Curious Conviction of Air Force Major Clarence Anderson

Here is an article about a conviction that merits a closer look at how our military justice is treating sexual assault.

Using the most recent AF Times article and this article regarding the conviction, a reader who is familiar with military justice can discern that a woman who lived with Maj. Anderson accused him of abuse both of a physical and sexual nature, kidnapping, and threats of grievous bodily harm occurring across three states from 2009 through 2013.  The Government called at least one witness who testified for the complaining witness.

At his trial, he chose to be tried by military judge alone and not to have a panel of officers determine his guilt and sentence, if convicted.  The military judge convicted Anderson of six of the charged offenses and acquitted him of three offenses.  All of the charges involve one woman, so there might have been issued regarding her credibility or issues the way the Government drafted those charges for which he was acquitted.

On December 14, 2015, the court-martial convened again to hear a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence that a witness who testified for the complaining witness had been paid $10,000.00.  The judge said that if the witness had been paid, then it "probably would not produce a substantially more favorable result,” had the evidence been presented at trial.

Having practiced military law for more than a decade and seeing the changes made to the UCMJ, I have serious doubts about this conviction.  Maybe there is very strong evidence of this Officer's guilt that has not been reported.  But, there is an equally strong possibility that other evidence of innocence has not been reported, either.  From what has been reported, I find it difficult to believe that a reasonable factfinder would not have a reasonable doubt as to Maj. Anderson's guilt.

Reading between the lines and using my experience with Servicemembers who have been wrongly accused, I have many questions.  Did these allegations manifest during a divorce or break up?  Was evidence presented that the complaining witness has a borderline personality disorder?  Has the complaining witness been married before?  Has the complaining witness falsely accused anyone else of a crime?  Did the Accused take the stand to testify where he would have been subjected to cross examination?  Were these charges based solely on witness testimony, or was there evidence to corroborate the complaining witness's story such as pictures, audio, fresh medical evidence, or written evidence from the Accused?

Considering that Ft. Leavenworth has a policy against inmates speaking to the media, I really begin to wonder what they do not want the public to hear about the case from this man who could be wrongfully convicted.