Friday, March 15, 2019

Case of the Day: Brazell v. Uddenberg, 2019 CCA LEXIS 36 (U.S. Air Force Ct. Crim. App. Jan. 28, 2019)


Petitioner is an Air Force soldier who filed for a writ of habeas corpus while being under custody in the Navy prison. The petitioner was imprisoned pursuant to the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Japan, as he sexually abused a minor while being stationed in Japan. Petitioner claimed the court martial lacked subject matter jurisdiction under SOFA, because SOFA gives Japanese authorities the primary authority to exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed by US soldiers stationed in Japan.

The court rejected the claim. The court found that because both US and Japan criminalizes sexual abuse against a minor, there was no exclusive jurisdiction under SOFA. In the absence of exclusive jurisdiction, US and Japan have concurrent jurisdiction. Although Japan has the primary right to exercise jurisdiction if the jurisdiction is concurrent, Japan need not explicitly waive the primary right for US to exercise jurisdiction.


US forces stationed abroad is a ripe place for seeing under-address treaty issues! Highly interesting stuff if you're into jurisdictional challenges.

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