In a previous blog, we discussed some of the issues surrounding informing panel members about Sex Offender Registration. If you and your court martial defense attorney decide that doing so is in your best interest, there are certain ways to properly inform them members (jury).
Again, only if your military defense lawyer believes it is in your interest to inform the members that you will need to register as a sex offender, he must have the military judge take judicial notice of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The court martial defense attorney will give the military judge the requested judicial notice in writing. Along with the judicial notice, or in lieu thereof, the military judge will instruct members. This instruction is a standard one that applies to registration in any state. If your military defense attorney can show that you will go to a particular state, then he can tailor an instruction targeted at that state.
Your court martial defense lawyer can inform the judge he intends to offer your unsworn statement to about your personal view of how SORNA will affect you if the judge will not take judicial notice or give an instruction. The permissible scope of an unsworn is very broad and if the judge applies U.S. v. Grill, 48 M.J. 131 (C.A.A.F., 1998) correctly, the unsworn statement should be allowed. Grill held that it was error for the military judge to prevent the accused’s unsworn statement concerning the treatment received by others involved in similar offenses.
If you are denied the opportunity to make an unsworn statement, ensure the record is clear about what you wanted to say. Remember that you may make an unsworn statement yourself, through counsel, or both. Ensure you rehearse your statement with your court martial defense lawyer.