In 2018, Gray pled guilty to allegations, including sexual assault of a child, sexual assault, sexual assault consummated by battery, assault, prejudice to good order and discipline, and failure to obey an order. The victim—his adopted stepdaughter—was between the ages of 13 and 16 when Gray sexually assaulted her. At age 16, she gave birth to Gray's biological daughter, as confirmed by DNA testing.
In exchange for Gray's plea, the Army agreed to dismiss without prejudice the remaining charges, which included rape of a child, sexual abuse, and additional sexual assault and assault charges. Those charges related to another adopted stepdaughter and the victim's mother. A military judge sentenced Gray to a reduction in rank, 44 years' confinement, and a dishonorable discharge with forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
His appeal to ACCA on IAC grounds failed and CAAF denied his petition.** He claimed defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by advising him to plead guilty to offenses he did not commit, to agree to an incorrect stipulation of facts, and to lie during his providence inquiry with the military judge. In a shift from his previous statements, he insisted the sex with the victim was consensual and occurred only after her sixteenth birthday.
His pro se petition for habeas corpus followed. The Tenth Circuit denied his appeal of the district courts denial of his petition.
"Federal courts are empowered under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to entertain habeas petitions from military prisoners. But our review of court-martial proceedings is very limited." Santucci, 66 F.4th at 853 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also id. (describing the standard of review as "deferential" and noting that "the deference we give to military tribunals is even greater than that we owe to state courts" (internal quotation marks omitted)).
Gray's inability to satisfy the second and fourth factors of Dodson caused his petition to fail.
The district court found that the military courts adequately considered Gray's ineffective assistance claim. It highlighted the ACCA's efforts to supplement the record by requesting affidavits from Gray's counsel and concluded that the ACCA's opinion shows that it rejected the claim only after a complete record analysis—thus giving full and fair consideration to his claim.
Gray's claim that the district court should have granted discovery also failed.
Gray's discovery motion sought a transcript of a phone call between another USDB inmate and the victim, during which the victim supposedly told the inmate that she did not want to testify but her mother made her do so. The district court found that he had not shown good cause for discovery because (1) "the alleged statement by the victim does not suggest that petitioner did not commit the crime," and (2) "the facts at issue in the discovery request do not bear on the Dodson factors that preclude . . . merits review."
** We have noted the potential change to Supreme Court direct appeal based on the recent conference committee draft of the NDA 2024. See Gray v. Payne, No. 23-3079, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 32150, at *3 n.2 (10th Cir. Dec. 5, 2023).
Disclaimer: Posts are the authors' personal opinions and do not reflect the position of any organization or government agency.
Amendments to UCMJ Since 1950 (2024 ed.)
Amendments to RCM Since 1984 (2024 ed.)
Amendments to MRE Since 1984 (2024 ed.)
Army Crim. L. Deskbook
J. App. Prac. & Pro.