- Who may request special findings:
- Any party to the proceeding. RCM 918(b). Whenever the government and the defendant in a criminal case waive a jury, they are entitled to not just a verdict one way or the other, but to the reasons behind it. Schinasi at 86 (citing United States v. Clark , 123 F.Supp.608 (S.D. Cal 1954)).
- The military judge acting sua sponte. Schinasi at 81 (discussing United States v.Figueroa , 377 F.Supp. 645 (S.D.N.Y. 1970)).
- What the party may request: Any party can request special findings on any facts reasonably related to an important issue, but may make only one set of requests per case. RCM 918(b).
- When to make such a request: At any time before general findings are announced.RCM 918(b).
- How to make the request: There is no specified format, and the rule allows for eitherverbal or written requests. However, the military judge has the authority to require any request be specific and in writing. RCM 918(b).
- What issues merit special findings:
- Not only findings on elements of the offense, but also on all factual questionsreasonably in issue prior to findings as well as controverted issues of fact which are deemed relevant to the sentencing decision,including jurisdictional issues. Schinasi at 107 (citing United States v. Falin , 43 C.M.R. 702, 703 (A.C.M.R. 1971)). Also, the judge must ensure they are made whenever another rule requires “essential findings of fact.”
- Issues which are irrelevant, immaterial, or so remote as to have no effect on the trial‘soutcome do not merit special findings. Schinasi at 107-108 (discussing United States v. Burke , 4 M.J. 530 (N.C.M.R. 1977)). Special findings are also not required when counsel desires to know what evidence was considered unimportant by the trial judge. Schinasi at 91 (citing United States v. Peterson , 338 F.2d 595 (7th Cir. 1964)).
- How the military judge must issue special findings: Verbally on the record or inwriting. RCM 918(b). 10. When the military judge must enter findings: During or after the court-martial, but in any event before authentication of the record, as they must be included with the record of trial. RCM 918(b); RCM 1103(b)(3)(A)(iv).