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You Must Obey Superior Officer Orders IMMEDIATELY - new change to the MCM

Written by: Federal Practice Group
Written by: Federal Practice Group

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The Manual for Court Martial, the 2008 edition, required compliance with a lawful order within a reasonable amount of time. The new manual changes this requirement to 'immediate.' It states:

Immediate compliance is required for any order that does not explicitly or implicitly indicate that delayed compliance isauthorized or directed.

Therefore, it may be prudent to verify with each superior officer whether immediate compliance is necessary. For future orders, a present statement by a Servicemember indicating his or her intent not to comply does not constitute an Article 90, UCMJ, violation without taking any additional specific actions.

There are several 'so called' defenses under Article 90, UCMJ. They are:

1) actual knowledge – If the Servicemember did not know about the order (because he never received it) or did not know that the person who issued it was a superior officer (because it was dark) this is not a violation of the Article 90, UCMJ.

2) the order must have a relation to military duty, for example an order to steal military equipment would most likely not be a lawful order (judges determine lawfulness of an order).

When charged with disoberying a Superior Officer, contact a military defense counsel who is familiar with it. This information does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal advice contact an attorney.

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