Rule of Court Martial 706 allows military defense attorneys to request a mental examination of their
client to determine whether the he or she lacked mental responsibility
at the time of the alleged acts. For example, in the upcoming case of
United States v. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales , the sanity board request will be extremely important. If the board finds
that he lacked mental responsibility for the offenses charged, he may
not be tried.
Routinely, trial counsels opposed to the sanity board, and the chain of
command follows their advice. It remains for military defense attorneys
to collect all the facts to persuade the chain of command, and if necessary,
the judge, that a mental examination is critical. Some of the warning
signs may be:
- History of mental problems
- Stress, depression, mental or emotional trauma
- Erratic, unusual behavior
- Suicide attempts
- Post-deployment stressors
This list is not exclusive. In Staff Sergeant Bales' case, based on
the initial reports, it appears that he suffered from at least a few warning
signs mentioned here.
Sanity Boards reveal additional medical issues that many Servicemembers
face, in addition to their known medical history. Such findings may be
very useful during the actual trial. Also, it is important to note that
once the defense places its client's medical history at issue, the
trial counsel will have access to it as well. As such, it is critical
to control what the trial counsel will have access to. Finally, sometimes,
sanity boards are not done properly, and some questions are not answered
by those who examine a particular Servicemember. In such cases, it is
critical for military defense attorneys to protect their clients'
rights by using RCM 706 to their advantage.
If you are looking for experienced military defense attorneys who know
how to handle requests for sanity boards under RCM 706, how to gather
facts, engage the chain of command, and persuasively argue in front of
a military judge, contact
The Federal Practice Group for a free consultation.