Articles Tagged with sanity board

United States v. Sezginalp:

There is an interesting appellate procedural history.  The court intially denied various efforts to have a post-trial R.C.M. 706 evaluation.  But, the court did sua sponte reconsider the denial and did order a new R.C.M. 706 examination.

On 6 January 2010, the ordered R.C.M. 706 evaluation report was released. The evaluation found that during all relevant time periods, the appellant suffered from Schizophrenia (paranoid type), a severe mental disease, but that at the time of his offenses, the appellant was able to appreciate the nature and quality of his actions. The report, however, concluded that at the time of his trial, the appellant’s mental disease rendered him unable to understand the nature of the proceedings against him or to cooperate intelligently in his defense.

In view of the 6 January 2010, R.C.M. 706 competency report, we find a substantial basis in law and fact to question the knowing and voluntary nature of the appellant’s guilty pleas. In
view of our determination above, the appellant’s remaining assignments of error are moot.

image Army officials agreed to delay a mental evaluation for the man suspected of going on a shooting spree at Fort Hood until after a military court hearing that will determine if he will stand trial, his attorney said Wednesday.

Houston Chronicle.com reports.

Lamb denied a request for civilian mental health experts to be on the panel, Galligan said, adding that "we will continue to fight that."

Lamb approved Galligan’s request for more documents — including academic and performance evaluations, records indicating Hasan was at risk of psychosis and minutes of meetings in which Hasan allegedly discussed his religious concerns.

Lamb also will allow a forensic psychologist on the defense team to be present for Hasan’s evaluation, Galligan said.

An attorney for the Army psychiatrist accused of going on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood said Monday he wants his client’s mental evaluation delayed, citing a potential conflict of interest with the exam panel.

Army officials previously appointed a three-member board of military mental health professionals to determine whether Maj. Nidal Hasan is competent to stand trial and his mental status the day of the November shooting, which left 13 dead and dozens wounded on the Texas Army post.

Military.com reports.image

…Galligan said one panel member taught at the medical school Hasan attended, although Galligan was unsure if that doctor directly taught or knew Hasan. Galligan declined to release any board members’ identities.

In his motion to Army officials last week, Galligan said he also requested an all-civilian board, saying doctors with no military ties likely would be more objective and not worried about repercussions if their diagnosis was considered favorable to Hasan.

The Killeen Daily Herald reports that LTG Cone recently gave a briefing about “behavioral health care.”

The Army is behind Fort Hood’s effort to address behavioral health care issues and plans to institute it across the board, the post’s commander said Friday.
In response to incidents like the Nov. 5 shooting and an Army-wide increase in suicides, Fort Hood officials implemented the Behavioral Health Care Plan, a two-year process which is set to undergo periodic reviews and leverage the "whole of community" to accomplish tasks in several phases, Cone said. The goal is to make sure everyone who needs behavioral health care is reached and that its capabilities and capacities are right for Fort Hood’s soldiers, families and the civilian workforce.
Cone also talked about a Recovery and Resiliency Task Force, part of which includes a comprehensive approach to identify, diagnose and holistically treat those impacted by events like the Nov. 5 shooting at the post’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center where 13 were killed and more than 30 were wounded when a gunman opened fire.

During the briefing apparently the following was said about Major Hasan and his pending court-martial issues.

Cone also talked about the case status for the man arrested and charged with the Nov. 5 shooting, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. He explained that a case is examined in multiple levels of the military justice system and it would be inappropriate for him to comment until it reaches his level at the General Court-Martial Convening Authority. That likely won’t happen until after he deploys to Iraq with III Corps, and will then rest upon newly promoted Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, who will lead the corps in Cone’s stead.
The case is at the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority level, Cone said, and Col. Morgan Lamb has directed that a sanity board be conducted on Hasan to determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.

Not sure if this is a misquote.  Normally the R.C.M. 706 sanity board deals with both sanity at the time of the alleged offenses as well as competence for trial.

Fort Sam Houston officials Wednesday named the three medical professionals who will conduct the evaluation, according to a Thursday Herald report. Hasan’s attorney, the Belton-based John P. Galligan, said the board intends to review documents until Feb. 7 and then evaluate his client by the end of February.
Cone did say that all but one injured in the shooting were released from hospitals. That man sustained a wound to the head, Cone said, and has lost the use of one arm. He is hospitalized in Austin.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s defense attorney skirmished with Army commanders Wednesday over the timing of a sanity examination for the Fort Hood gunman, saying that his client is still too medically impaired to participate.

So begins a piece in the Dallas News.  What’s the flaw.  There is no judge that attorney Galligan can go to or appeal to.

"This is getting dirty," lawyer John Galligan said of the Army. "These guys have made it clear that they’re going for blood."

The upshot, he said, is that Hasan’s chain of command and prosecutors are deciding the tempo of the proceedings and are making decisions without the oversight of a neutral legal authority.

While I’m not sure this is the correct sentiment or words to use, his point is a valid one.  Why hasten the R.C.M. 706 (sanity board) if there is a danger the Major Nidal Malik Hasan is not medically fit to undergo testing and evaluation.

"They’re not going to get a valid 706 board if he’s in that kind of condition," noted Zimmermann, co-chair of the military law section of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "He won’t be able to take any standardized tests. He won’t be able to engage in a forensic interview. How are they going to make a determination?"

One of the recommendations of Cox Commission II that is well supported by various groups would allow for a standing court—martial, instead of the ad hoc appointment of the military judge upon convening of a court-martial.  Clearly the process at Fort Hood will expose one of the fundamental flaws in the military justice system.  The convening authority (to use a baseball analogy) gets to pick and choose the team, manager, batters, and bowlers of the opposing side.  By the time a military judge is involved in the case many issues will have happened and it may be impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.