United States v. Denedo - Oral Argument - March 25, 2009

United States v. Denedo

Media for United States v. Denedo

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 08, 2009 in United States v. Denedo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 25, 2009 in United States v. Denedo

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument this morning in Case 08-267, United States v. Denedo.

Mr. Shah.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, or CAAF, held that military appellate courts possess open-ended jurisdiction under the All Writs Act to entertain a coram nobis challenge to the merits of a final court-martial conviction.

This Court should reverse that decision, both because the All Writs Act cannot supply jurisdiction that Congress chose not to confer and because Respondent is a civilian who may no longer invoke the military court system.

As this Court explained in Clinton v. Goldsmith, military courts, as Article I courts, are strictly limited to the bases of jurisdiction conferred upon them by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ.

Three related aspects of the UCMJ make clear that it does not confer jurisdiction over Respondent's coram nobis petition.

First, as noted in Goldsmith, the UCMJ narrowly circumscribes military appellate jurisdiction to the findings and sentences of a court-martial conviction.

That is a direct review jurisdiction.

UCMJ Articles 66 and 67, which define appellate jurisdiction, do not contemplate any further review within the military appellate courts.

Second, once direct appellate review is complete and the military authority executes the judgment, UCMJ Article 76 affirmatively forecloses any further military court review.

As this Court has recognized on two prior occasions, UCMJ Article 76 marks the terminal point of proceedings within the court-martial system.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Mr. Shah, how does that differ from the general rule that a judgment becomes final and has preclusive effect once the appellate route has been exhausted or the time to pursue it has expired?

It seems to me that Article 76 simply codifies the rule that applies ordinarily in criminal cases, in civil cases, stating when a judgment becomes final for preclusion purposes.

Your Honor, yes, Article 76 does that, but it does more than that.

As this Court recognized in Gusik and in Councilman, it marks the end of proceedings within the military court system.

Now, beyond the text, what this Court looked at in Gusik -- in Gusik, it was a Petitioner seeking habeas review.

One of his alternative arguments in Gusik was that Article 76 essentially violated the Suspension Clause because it -- it marked the end of -- no further proceedings within the military court system as well as within the Article III court system.

The Court agreed with the petitioner that Article 76 marked the end of any further proceedings within the military court system.

It disagreed that it also effected a repeal of Article III habeas jurisdiction, but there was no disagreement between the petitioner, the government, and this Court in Gusik that it did mark the end of proceedings within the military court system.

Antonin Scalia:

Therefore, one can say that that point wasn't decided in the case, right?

Well, Your Honor, one could say that, but this Court again in Councilman ratified that line, that the Court drew in Gusik.

It -- it reiterated the reasoning that Article 76 forecloses any further proceedings within the military court system.

So I don't think it's just dicta.

It was relevant to its denial of the Suspension Clause claim, and the Court reiterated that in Councilman 25 years later.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Where, in your view, in that the government is putting forward, can this -- can Denedo go?

He said, I was misinformed by my counsel.

I never would have entered a plea if I had known I would be subject to deportation.

And he said, I never found out about it until, what, 8 years later, when the government -- 8 years after his conviction, the government said, you're subject to deportation.

Where can he go with that plea?

Your Honor, it appears that Respondent no longer has any further remedies to -- to pursue.