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46 A.F. L. Rev. 73 (1999)
Bad Checks Make Bad Law and Bad Policy

handle is hein.journals/airfor46 and id is 79 raw text is: Bad Checks Make Bad Law and Bad Policy
On January 7, 1997, MSgt Dianne Eatmon walked into an Air Force
courtroom facing the possibility she would be sentenced to 222 years of
confinement.1 Given the severity of this potential sanction, one may think
MSgt Eatmon must have either killed someone or at least gone on a violent
crime spree. Neither was the case. Instead, what MSgt Eatmon had done was
write almost two hundred bad checks to various entities over the course of
nearly a year.2 For that misconduct, MSgt Eatmon faced the threat of being
sent to jail for the rest of her natural life.
MSgt Eatmon confronted the possibility of this lengthy term of
confinement because of United States v. Mincey,3 a decision the United States
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) handed down two years
earlier. In Mincey, the CAAF dramatically changed the landscape of bad check
prosecutions by reformulating the calculation of the maximum possible term of
confinement in these cases.       Instead of proceeding with     a maximum
punishment determined by reference to the amount of the largest single check
contained in each specification,4 the court cleared the way for each bad check
* Major Martin (B.A., University of Kentucky; J.D., University of Kentucky; LL.M, Yale Law
School) is a reserve appellate defense counsel, Appellate Defense Division, Air Force Legal
Services Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington DC. He is an Associate Professor of
Law at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas. He is a member of the
Kentucky State Bar.
'See United States v. Eatmon, 47 M.J. 534 (A.F.C.C.A. 1997), aft'd, 49 M.J. 273 (1998).
2 See Eatmon, 47 M.J. at 536. MSgt Eatmon was charged with four violations of Article 123a,
Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), for writing bad checks with the intent to defraud,
and two violations of Article 134, UCMJ, for failing to maintain sufficient funds in her
account to cover the checks. Additionally, MSgt Eatmon was charged with misusing a
government credit card in violation of Article 92, UCMJ, and dishonorably failing to pay a
debt to American Express in violation of Article 134, UCMJ. Id. See also MANUAL FOR
COURTS-MARTIAL, United States, Part IV,    16, 49, 68, 71 (1998 ed.) [hereinafter MCM].
' 42 M.J. 376 (1995).
4 Prior to Mincey, the normal practice in bad check cases was to arrange the disputed checks
into separate logical groups (for example, one group included checks written to the
commissary, a second group would include checks written to the Army and Air Force
Exchange Service, and a third set might consist of checks written to the noncommissioned
officers' club). Each individual grouping would then be charged as a separate violation of the
charge. Each such violation is called a specification. A specification is a plain, concise, and
definite statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. MCM, supra note 2,
Rule For Courts-Martial 307(c)(3) [hereinafter R.C.M.]. The maximum punishment would

Bad Checks-73

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