Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Nettlesome issue (" 'tis the seisin")

Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces decided United States v. Nettles, a unanimous decision in which the court, per Stucky, J., held that the court-martial lacked personal jurisdiction because the accused, who had been in the Individual Ready Reserve, was discharged before trial. It's an interesting ruling on its own terms (after all, when was the last time you read the words "livery of seisin" in a CAAF opinion -- or any opinion since law school, for that matter?), but this aspect is worth noting: the offenses took place off-base, in a motel in Florida. Admittedly, one of the victims was an active duty officer, and admittedly, this prosecution was permissible under Solorio v. United States's service-status test, but really, why wasn't this case tried in Florida state court? Was it time-barred under state law, or was it the usual SJA's "we'll be happy to try it" dynamic?

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