The bulk of this sort of evidence could not be introduced before the judge rendered its verdict, because it could be deemed prejudicial or irrelevant, but in the sentencing phase of the proceedings, “The rules of evidence are relaxed,” Mr. Rosen adds.
For example, Manning may make a statement on his own behalf. This could be sworn testimony – in this case, the prosecution could cross-examine him.
He could also choose to make an unsworn statement, which would not be eligible for cross-examination.
The key for Manning will be providing mitigating evidence – “factors that may sway the judge to grant him a lesser sentence,” Rosen says. “This may be family problems or that people persecuted him because of his sexual preferences.”
The sentencing phase will be extensive and may last for weeks. Although Manning was acquitted of “aiding the enemy,” which would have carried with it a life sentence without the possibility of parole, he has been found guilty of crimes that generally impose decade-long sentences each, which could quickly add up.
“It’s going to accumulate quite a few years,” Rosen says. “We’re probably talking nearly 100 years – we’re talking a lot of years.”
“We’re not celebrating,” defense attorney David Coombs said. “Ultimately, his sentence is all that really matters.”
Once Col. Denise Lind, the presiding judge, renders her verdict, Manning’s case will automatically go to what is known as the “convening authority,” a general who, if he so desired, could overturn the verdict.
The powers of the convening authority have been called into question over recent months, when they have twice thrown out sexual assault convictions rendered by military juries.
Though unlikely to happen, the general who is serving as the “convening authority” in the Manning trial – as with the sexual assault cases that caused so much controversy – could dismiss the conviction, known as “setting aside” the verdict.