Here’s a very interesting report by the Virginian-Pilot‘s Kate Wiltrout about the second attempted premeditated murder court-martial of Seaman Richard Mott.  One of the TCs in the case was our very own CDR Jason Grover, the Super Muppet of Advocacy.  Mott’s original conviction was set aside by this unpublished NMCCA opinion due to a discovery violation.

18 Responses to “Second conviction in Mott”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Super-G!

  2. Anon says:

    Somebody should have whispered to the defense team that psychobabble works on your basic jury of those that are unemployed, retired, have nothing better to do or can’t come up with an excuse, not a “jury” consisting of educated, highly trained, motivated, and dedicated professionals.

  3. Brendon says:

    Paranoid Schizophrenia is a whole lot of things, but it ain’t “psychobabble.” Whatever else was going on, it seems clear from the article at least that even the prosecutors acknowledged that the kid was experiencing serious delusions which lead to the attack. The reality is that the defense of insanity virtually never works in front of any jury, even in cases like this where everyone seems to agree that the accused is suffering from a serious mental illness. The irony is that in this case the accused will be out and free in six years but probably receiving little or no treatment for his illness – meaning he is far more likely to experience another violent episode. Had he been sent off to a mental facility for an indeterminate time society as a whole would probably be a lot safer.

    BTW, if I read the article right, the defense shaved 3 years off the sentence at the second trial, which means their “psychobabble” defense paid some dividends, even if not all they had hope for.

    Finally, what the heck is up with the scare quotes around the word jury? Military juries are, in fact, juries, so what’s with the weird construction of slapping meaningless quotes around the word?

  4. Anon says:

    Wow! Brendon, ease off Buddy. It’s only Monday…
    There is no such thing as a “jury” in military practice. The fact-finder is either the Military Judge or Members. I “quoted” “Jury” so everyone would know I understand the term of art is inaccurate when discussing a court-martial.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Anon, I’d say Brendon is more right on than you are.

    There is going to be little to no treatment in the prison, and this guy will come out with PS which isn’t “psychobabble” and be probably even more dangerous than when he went in and possibly could harm someone else.

    The fact that we call them panels does not mean that for all logical intents and purposes, they are a jury. We can debate about whether or not Soldiers/Sailors/Etc. have a 6th amendment right to a jury, but they have a statutory right to the equivalent.

    Regardless, I didn’t hear the testimony so maybe both docs were unpersuasive but the real concern I have is that most folks few psychology as psychobabble and if the defense can find two different docs to say he has PS, and the government can’t find, apparently, one doc to say he doesn’t, then it makes me wonder what it takes to find someone NGRI.

    I assume this issue will be raised on appeal if the testimony of the other doc was at all convincing.

  6. Anonymous says:

    above should be, aren’t a jury, not are a jury.

  7. Anon says:

    Counsel….this conversation really needs to focus on what is important – does SN Mott have a valid birth certificate?

  8. Cheap Seats says:

    I guess I’d like to contrast this case with the Hutchins case. Why is it NMCCA wants to stir-fry the DC and go after his bar license/Art 27(b) certification in Hutchins, yet lets a HUGE Brady violation such as in Mott off the hook? Any takers?

  9. Anonymous says:

    no but clearly the fact that Obama does not and was born in (insert your favorite conspiracy theory related country here) and not the US means that SN Mott was not bound to follow any orders not to murder, including, apparently, the orders of the voices in his head, which have also not proven they have a long-form birth certificate.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Easy: Mott’s was a trial counsel and Hutchin’s was a defense counsel.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The fact that Mott was convicted a second time is a travesty. If there exists a case where an accused should have been found not guilty by lack of mental responsibility, this is that case. SN Mott suffered from severe Paranoid Schizophrenia at the time he committed the offense, and had to spend 9 months in a mental institute before he could be found competent to stand trial by a 706 board. The facts of this case go to show that SN Mott DID NOT understand the difference between right and wrong when he committed this offense. How the members could have found differently is a complete mystery to me, especially in light of the fact that there were two defense experts who concurred that he was not mentally responsible, and no government expert to refute them.

    Hopefully NMCCA will do the right thing and set this case aside for lack of factual sufficiently, an issue that was argued in the first appeal but that the Court didn’t reach because they set it aside on the Brady violation. Speaking of the Brady violation, how about the fact that the TC who failed to turn over that evidence is now a military judge. Makes you wonder…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why would you congratulate him when justice wasn’t served?

  13. Anonymous says:

    it’s not hard, they didn’t believe the docs. Now that doesn’t make the panel right in no believing the docs, but the reality is the public at large generally does not like the idea of anyone being not guilty by reason of insanity.

    the spectre of people “getting off” by pretending to be crazy is out there and psychologists and psychology is viewed as a soft, undependable science.

    That’s uphill Mount Everest that DC face when trying to prove someone not guilty by reason of insanity, it’s as close to impossible as one can get without being impossible IMO.

    I don’t those biases are any less prevalent in attorneys either so don’t hold your breath on appellate courts setting the case aside. It’s one thing to say the panel didn’t hear all of the evidence and granting a new trial, it’s another to say they heard the evidence but got it wrong on the issue of competence.

    I think most courts won’t do that except in extreme cases. (Although not sure how you can get more “crazy” then to be paranoid schizophrenic” that is pretty much the gold standard of crazy.)

  14. Brian le chien says:

    What makes the insanity defense hard, is not merely the skeptical panel (which they surely are), but it is also a function of the standard of proof (ie what it takes to prove you were to crazy to be held responsible for your actions). After the attempted assassination of Regan, the insanity defense was changed into an empty shell of its former self(perhaps for good, perhaps for ill).

    If the accused could not “appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his or her acts,” only then does he have a defense.

    To simplify, if Mott had believed his knife was a chocolate bar (ie didn’t appreciate the nature of his acts), well, he probably could have gotten off. But, knowing it was a knife, and taking any actions to hide his conduct (in advance of the offense and after) showed at same base level he knew his conduct was wrong (why hide it if it was wrong). This is almost insurmountable.

    If you don’t like the standard, blame Congress and the President (or, perhaps, Hinkley).

  15. Anonymous says:

    I wonder about the wisdom of taking a case where you think that you have a legit shot at NGBRMI in front of members. I think as DC I’d be more likely to take a good case to a judge and a sham case to the members given the standard set out. The judge would know that someone found NGBRMI would go to the DoJ, so the whole “getting away with it” wouldn’t resonate there. Members would be more likely to think that such a finding was a “pass.”

  16. Cheap Seats says:

    Probably what they thought first time around. Seeing that Judge Bailey found him guilty, they probably didn’t want to try that method again.

  17. Anonymous says:

    well perhaps what we need is what some states have, Guilty but mentally ill. Some sort of compromise where the panel knows that the person will be kept away from the public (but treated), you could have a lower standard than NGRI, but you’d place them in a secure DOJ mental health facility instead of the DB which believe me is not qualified to deal with even moderately mentally ill prisoners.

    I’m not “blaming” anyone. You are right the standard is part of the difficulty, but I think even at the appellate level you see sanity boards that aren’t ordered that should be, experts not granted that should be, and I think part of that is an almost universal disdain or distrust of the mental health profession in general.

  18. Law Student says:

    Well said, Brian. I attended the trial and heard what the members heard. It was certainly believable that Mott appreciated the wrongfulness based on evidence of his actions prior to the attack and statement following. Added to that, although I wasn’t able to attend during the second expert’s testimony, the first expert did not seem like a guy to whom a military member could easily relate. I’ll leave that at that.

    Though I was indeed surprised by the result, I don’t think there’s any way it will be overturned for lack of factual sufficiency.