Citation. United States v. Owens, 484 U.S. 554, 108 S. Ct. 838, 98 L. Ed. 2d 951, 56 U.S.L.W. 4160 (U.S. Feb. 23, 1988)
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Brief Fact Summary.
The Appellant, Owens (the “Appellant”), a chief warrant officer two, was accused of murdering his wife and possession of an unregistered handgun. He was tried by a military tribunal and was convicted of unpremeditated murder and possession of unregistered handgun.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Military Rules of Evidence 607 and 608 allow testimony to be elicited from the Appellant regarding prior bad acts of intentional falsehood. Here, the evidence was used for a purpose other than showing the Appellant’s behavior.
The Appellant, a chief warrant officer two, was accused of murdering his wife and possession of an unregistered handgun. He was tried by a military tribunal and was convicted of unpremeditated murder and possession of unregistered handgun. When the Appellant was being questioned, the trial counsel cross-examined him on several matters which were allegedly omitted from the Appellant’s application: 1) convictions for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia; 2) prior arrest of an assault and battery against his former wife; and 3) a conviction for carrying a firearm in his vehicle without a permit.
Whether the Appellant was substantially prejudiced when he was questioned concerning omissions on his application to be promoted to become a warrant officer candidate?
The trial court did not err in allowing evidence of prior bad acts of the Appellant because the evidence had substantial probative value, and because the trial court gave the tribunal a limiting instruction which restricted their consideration of the evidence to the issue of credibility. Military Rules of Evidence 607 and 608.
In this matter, the government properly impeached the credibility of the Appellant by introducing evidence of prior bad acts of the Appellant. On his application to become a chief warrant officer candidate, he omitted his prior criminal history in an attempt to better insure the possibility that he would be accepted as a chief warrant officer.