As more and more combat veterans return from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other
combat zones, many of them will have to receive proper care and treatment
for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
If they do not, they may turn to violent acts leading to a court-martial.
As such, it is critical for civilian or military defense counsels to explain
to each judge and panel member how their client's decision-making
is affected by PTSD or TBI. Civilian or military defense attorneys must
effectively engage subject matter experts in PTSD to properly explain
their client's actions to win an acquittal or mitigate any punishment.
Also, PTSD and TBI analysis must be included in mitigation and post-trial
relief. Often, prosecutors may introduce their own experts to negate the
claim that an accused Servicemember suffers from PTSD or TBI. Effective
defense counsels must be prepared to cross-examine prosecution experts
about PTSD and TBI to show inconsistencies in their testimonies.
Porter v. McCollum, 130 S.Ct. 447 (2009), the United States Supreme Court found that Porter's
defense counsel was ineffective (violation of 6th Amendment right to counsel) because he did not uncover evidence of Porter's
mental health issues, abusive childhood, and heroic military service.
Porter was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder and sentenced
to death. The ineffective defense counsel introduced inconsistent mitigation
evidence of family relations and alcoholism. The United States Supreme
Court reversed the lower court's decision upholding the death sentence
and remanded the case for further proceedings focusing more on the accurate
mitigation evidence: mental health issues including post-traumatic stress
disorder, heroic military service, and abusive childhood.
Military defense attorneys at The Federal Practice Group have been deployed and understand the dynamics
of PTSD and TBI. If you are looking for an attorney who understands how
to educate judges and panel members about PTSD or TBI and to properly
address it during trials and in mitigation, then contract the
Federal Practice Group.