The lead article in the latest issue of Reveille, the newsletter of the ABA’s Military Lawyer Conference (part of the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division), is headlined:  “DoD General Counsel Directs JSC Review Of Self-Injury Offenses.”  The article reports:

On August 10, 2012, in light of a decision by the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in United States v. Caldwell, 70 M.J. 630 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. 2011), the General Counsel of the DoD directed the Joint Service Committee on Military Justice to consider amending the Manual for Courts-Martial (MEM) with respect to the offenses of “Self-injury without intent to avoid service”) (Article 134, UCMJ) and “Malingering,” which includes “intentional infliction of self-injury” (Article 115, UCMJ).  Specifically, he asked that as part of DoD’s “ongoing efforts to be sensitive to and address the rising levels of suicide within the military,” the MCM should reflect that evidence that the servicemember’s self-injury was a genuine attempt at suicide be considered as a factor relevant to whether disciplinary action should be taken with respect to these offenses.

As the article also notes, CAAF will hear oral argument in Caldwell on 27 November.

One Response to “Joint Service Committee directed to review self-injury offenses”

  1. Teufelmutt says:

    There’s a solid argument to be made that the MJ should have ordered a 706, given the regulatory guidance in section 0218 of the JAGMAN that “…a bona fide suicide attempt…creates a strong inference of lack of mental responsibility.”

    While the MJ can probably resolve the strictly legal aspects of that issue with FOF on the record, s/he can’t resolve the policy tension between the dueling objectives of punishment and suicide prevention. That’s why DoD GC’s decision to send the matter to the JSC is the correct first step in providing Congress with a sound and well-informed basis for removing this provision from Article 134.