Death. RCM 1003(b)(9)

uscourtmartiallawyers105Death may be adjudged in accordance with RCM 1004 (mechanics, aggravating factors, votes). Loving v. United States , 517 U.S. 748 (1996).

  • Specifically authorized for thirteen different offenses, including aiding the enemy, espionage, murder, and rape.
  • Requires the concurrence of all the members as to: (1) findings on the merits of capital offense, (2) existence of at least one aggravating factor under RCM 1004(c), (3) extenuating or mitigating circumstances are substantially outweighed by any aggravating circumstances, including aggravating factors, and (4) sentence of death.
  • Loving v. Hart, 47 M.J. 438, 444 (1998). In denying extraordinary writ to set aside death penalty, the CAAF held “that the aggravating factor in RCM 1004(c)(8) – that appellant was the ‘actual perpetrator of the killing’ – is constitutionally valid on its face, provided that it is understood to be limited to a person who kills intentionally or acts with reckless indifference to human life.”
  • United States v. Simoy , 50 M.J. 1 (1998). Lower court approved sentence of death where accused convicted of felony murder, notwithstanding accused did not actually commit murder. On appeal, the CAAF set aside the sentence and ordered a rehearing because the military judge committed plain error in advising the panel to vote on death before life. On rehearing, accused sentenced to DD, life, and reduction to E-1. United States v. Simoy, ACM 30496, 2000 CCA LEXIS 183 (unpub. op, July 7, 2000).
  • Panel Membership. UCMJ art. 25a. For offenses committed after 31 December 2002 – no less than twelve members for a death sentence. “In a case in which the accused may be sentenced to a penalty of death, the number of members shall be not less than 12, unless 12 members are not reasonably available because of physical conditions or military exigencies, in which case the convening authority shall specify a lesser number of members not less than five, and the court may be assembled and the trial held with not less than the number of members so specified. In such a case, the convening authority shall make a detailed written statement, to be appended to the record, stating why a greater number of members were not reasonably available.”

RCM 1003(b)(9)

Panel Membership