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Supreme Court Takes Up Military Rape Statute of Limitations Cases

Nov. 15, 2019, 7:05 PM

The federal government convinced the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 15 to consider whether rapes by members of the military should be subject to a statute of limitations.

The court consolidated the cases for one hour of oral argument.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forced held in three recent cases that the Uniform Code of Military Justice allows prosecution of rapes that occurred between 1986 and 2006 only if they were discovered and charged within five years.

But at the time of the convictions, the appeals court interpreted the code to impose no statute of limitations for rape because it was an offense punishable by death, for which no statute of limitations applies.

“The CAAF’s flipped interpretation of the UCMJ upsets settled expectations about the availability of prosecutions for military rapes and undermines the nation’s ‘overriding’ interest in maintaining military morale, discipline, and effectiveness,” the government argued.

Stephen I. Vladeck of Austin, Texas, represents respondents Michael J. D. Briggs and Richard D. Collins. David P. Sheldon of Washington represents respondent Humphrey Daniels.

The cases are United States v. Briggs, U.S., No. 19-108, review granted 11/15/19 and United States v. Collins, U.S., No. 19-184, review granted 11/15/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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