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Counsel may not refer to accused or witnesses in unduly demeaning terms

  1. militarylawyersucmj2VO6902002015United States v. Erickson, 65 M.J. 221 (C.A.A.F. 2007). Trial counsel erred by comparing the accused with Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden, and described the accused as a demon belonging in hell. Defense counsel did not Sentencing Argument (Art and Law) object at trial, however, so the court tested for plain error under prosecutorial misconduct standards and under that high standard found no prejudice.
  2. United States v. Quarles , 25 M.J. 761 (N.M.C.M.R. 1987). During findings argument, trial counsel characterized the accused as a prurient sex fiend and a deviant pervert. This improperly urged the members to cast aside reason and to impermissibly convict based on the accused alleged deviant character.
  3. United States v. Waldrup , 30 M.J. 1126 (N.M.C.M.R. 1989). Portraying accused as adespicable and disgustingman who took advantage of thesacred relationship between a mother and child was improper.
  4. United States v. Barrazamartinez , 58 M.J. 173 (C.A.A.F. 2003). The appellant pled guilty to wrongfully importing marijuana into the United States across the border from Mexico. At sentencing, the trial counsel argued that the appellant’s actions were abhorrent because the United States was engaged in a war on drugs. He also argued that the appellant was “almost a traitor” because he brought drugs into the country when the nation was trying to stop drugs from coming into the country. Although the trial counsel’s use of the word “traitor” was a matter of concern, it did not rise to the level of unduly inflaming the passions or prejudices of the panel members.
  5. United States v. McPhaul , 22 M.J. 808 (A.C.M.R. 1986). Trial counsel’s argument that accused was a degenerate scum and miserable human being was properly based on evidence in the record.
  6. Comparing a defense witness to Hitler was improper. United States v. Nelson , 1 M.J. 235 (C.M.A. 1975).

unduly demeaning terms

defense witness to Hitler