Airman First Class Ladarion D. Stanton was found guilty of two specifications of sexual assault, one specification of aggravated sexual contact, and one specification of larceny of nonmilitary property of a value of $500 or less.
Appearing before the CAAF, Appellant argued that his case should “be dismissed with prejudice for breach of a material term of [his] pretrial agreement with the convening authority.” In affirming the decision of the AFCCA, the Court “conclude[d] that the convening authority’s approval of Appellant’s request for a discharge in lieu of trial by court-martial was not a “pretrial agreement” within the meaning of the Rules for Courts Martial (R.C.M.).
The Court further noted that “although the convening authority made some other kind of agreement with Appellant, the convening authority did not expressly or implicitly promise to vacate the finding of guilt and dismiss the charge and specification.”
Stanton Opinion Here
Appellant has appealed to the AFCCA twice regarding his conviction and sentence. In his first appeal, AFCCA affirmed the larceny specification, but set aside the sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault specifications and set aside the sentence. On remand, but prior to the rehearing, Appellant requested an administrative discharge in lieu of trial. The request was later granted.
In his second appeal, Appellant argued that the approved administrative discharge extinguished the larceny specification. AFFCA affirmed the decision and the no punishment sentence.
The Pretrial Agreement
At issue here is whether Appellant formed a “pretrial agreement” with the convening authority when he submitted his request for a discharge in lieu of trial by court-martial and the convening authority approved this request. In rejecting Appellant’s contention the Court explained that “Appellant’s request for a discharge in lieu of trial by court-martial and the convening authority’s approval of that request do not fit within [the] parameters [of R.C.M. 705, necessary to form a pretrial agreement.]” Under the rule, “[t]o form a pretrial agreement, the accused must submit a written offer to the convening authority. R.C.M. 705(d)(2). This written offer must propose a bilateral agreement in which the defense and the government each make promises to the other.” However, in Appellant’s memorandum to the convening authority, no bilateral agreement existed, nor was one implied. Simply put, Appellant's pretrial agreement makes acknowledgments but does not require the convening authority to make a promise in return for Appellant's discharge.
Another Types of Enforceable Agreement
In finding that no bilateral agreement existed, the Court addresses whether Appellant entered into some other agreement that may be enforced by the Court. Finding no improper conduct regarding the lower court, the Court explained that Appellant merely got what he asked for: “Appellant requested a discharge ‘in lieu of trial by court-martial’ and the convening authority approved that request, we believe that the ‘trial’ to be avoided was the resentencing hearing, not the entire court-martial.” In short, finding no error, the Court affirmed the decision of the AFCCA.
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