In a trial by court-martial composed of military judge alone, the military judge shall make special findings upon request by any party. Special findings may be requested only as to matters of fact reasonably in issue as to an offense and need be made only as to offenses of which the accused was found guilty. RCM 918(b).
- Special findings enable the appellate court to determine the legal significanceattributed to particular facts by the military judge, and to determine whether the judge correctly applied any presumption of law, or used appropriate findings. United States v. Hussey , 1 M.J. 804 (A.F.C.M.R. 1976).
- Special findings serve many of the same functions as do jury instructions in trials before a court of members.Captain Lee D. Schinasi, Special Findings: Their Use at Trial and On Appeal , 87 Mil. L. Rev.73, 74 (Winter, 1980). Special findings are to a bench trial as instructions are to a trial before members. Such procedure is designed to preserve for appeal questions of law. It is the remedy designed to rectify misconceptions regarding: the significance of a particular fact; the application of any presumption; or the appropriate legal standard. Id. at 105 (quoting United States v. Falin , 43 C.M.R. 702 (A.C.M.R. 1971)).
- Viewed together, special findings can make a record for appellant, or protect it forthe government. Schinasi at 121.
- Analogues (Specifically Mandated Occasions for Special Findings)
- RCM 905(d) – Motions:Where factual issues are involved in determining a motion,the military judge shall state the essential findings on the record.
- MRE 304(d)(4) – Confessions and Admissions:Where factual issues are involved in ruling upon such motion or objection, the military judge shall state essential findings of fact on the record.
- MRE 311(d)(4) – Evidence Obtained From Unlawful Searches and Seizures:Wherefactual issues are involved in ruling upon such motion or objection, the military judge shall state essential findings of facts on the record.
- MRE 312(f) – Eyewitness Identification:Where factual issues are involved in rulingupon such motion or objection, the military judge shall state his or her essential findings of fact on the record.