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Military Law Review

ARTICLE: POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER ON TRIAL

Winter, 2006 / Spring, 2007

190-91 Mil. L. Rev. 67

Author

MAJOR TIMOTHY P. HAYES, JR. *

Excerpt

I. Introduction

The above quotes from strikingly divergent sources indicate the widely differing viewpoints that are likely to be encountered when discussing the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or as it is most commonly referred to, PTSD. An occurrence is perhaps the best way to describe PTSD at this juncture, because it is innocuous. To call it a disorder or disease, although technically correct, 3 would not satisfy those that would seek to label PTSD as an attractive excuse for criminal defendants or disgruntled Soldiers, and there are certainly individuals that continue to espouse those views. 4 As long as those people continue to be members of the jury pool, or court-martial panel population, that viewpoint must be taken into account by attorneys preparing to prosecute or defend a case where PTSD is at issue. As combat activities continue in theaters like Iraq and Afghanistan, it becomes increasingly likely that trial practitioners will have to become well-versed in understanding the complexities of PTSD as both a disorder and a defense. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to examine the current state of medical and legal understanding regarding combat-related PTSD, 5 especially when presented in courts-martial.

After examining PTSD, first historically and then medically, this article will address the prevalence of PTSD within various populations. The focus of the article will then shift to its main emphasis, an analysis of PTSD within the military courtroom. This analysis will include the impact of ...
 
 
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