The AFCCA affirmed the findings and sentence of SSgt Kaleb D. Willman, finding that he suffered no prejudice to his substantial rights.
Willman opinion here.
Editor's Note: This case raises interesting issues about remedies for prisoners.
Appellant plead guilty to making indecent recordings of a sixteen-year-old female whom he met on-line and did so without legal justification or authorization. The military judge sentenced Appellant to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for one year, and reduction to the grade of E-4.
On appeal, Appellant raises two issues for consideration: (1) whether Appellant is entitled to relief because he was compelled to give testimonial information after invoking his right to an attorney and refusing to answer questions; and (2) whether Appellant suffered cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he was not given proper medical treatment for a toe injury while in confinement. Appellant further contends that the conditions of his post-trial confinement render his sentence inappropriately severe, warranting relief. Finding no prejudice, the Court affirmed the judgment of the lower court.
I. Appellant's Right against Self-Incrimination
Appellant argues that he gave compelled testimonial information when AFOSI agents ordered him to unlock his electronic device following his invocation of his right to counsel. In rejecting Appellant’s claim, the Court explains that Appellant waived all waivable motions under his pre-trial agreement. Due to his unconditional plea of guilty, “Appellant waived the issues of the invocation of the right to counsel and the lawfulness of the orders to unlock his phone and other devices and to disable their security settings.”
II. Conditions of Post-Trial Confinement and Sentencing
Appellant contends that he was subjected to impermissible confinement conditions in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The law prohibits two categories of punishment: (1) those ‘incompatible with the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society’ or (2) those ‘which involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.’ In short, Appellant failed to meet his burden to show the conduct of the prison officials arose to that which is proscribed by the law. In affirming the sentence levied against Appellant, the Court “conclude[d] [that] the record contains no support to grant sentencing relief on the basis of Appellant's claims about the conditions of post-trial confinement.” Even though Appellant personally submitted a statement of facts about the conditions of his confinement, the Court stated that they were precluded from taking his statement into consideration to judge the appropriateness of his approved sentence.
III. Meginley’s Concurrence
Though Judge Meginley agreed with the Courts view on the Eighth Amendment issue, he disagreed that the Court was “precluded from considering the appropriateness of Appellant's sentence.” Pushing back against the “hard-line rule” barring consideration of that which is excluded from the record for post-trial issues. Arguing for an accommodationist approach, Meginley noted the “need to make accommodations in our confinement systems for certain segments of our military population which may have been marginalized or ignored, such as those who may identify as gay, lesbian, or transgender.” Arguing for flexibility over precedent, Meginley contends that the court “[has] an obligation to be prepared to consider non-traditional post-trial confinement issues as part of our charge.”
Senior Judge Posch authored the opinion in which Judge Richardson joined. Judge Meginley, filing a separate opinion, concurred in part and in the judgment.