Tag Archives: command influence

Memo: Command Influence

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Command Influence

By Bob Harmon

DATE: August 12, 2005

“Command influence is the mortal enemy of military justice.” 1

–US Ct. of Military Appeals, 1986

“The good news is that there were only a handful of appellate opinions dealing with unlawful command influence this past year. The bad news is that unlawful command influence is still alive.” 2

COL Robert A. Burrell, Chair and Professor, Criminal Law Department, U.S. Army JAG School, Charlottesville VA, 2001



Question Considered: How to challenge command influence in U.S. military law.

Brief Answer: Counsel can challenge command influence, in military courts-martial, in two ways:

1. By way of the existing safeguards against unlawful command influence already in U.S. military law, where those safeguards were breached, and,

2. By raising new challenges in areas where command-influence law remains uncertain, and where military institutions create a strong possibility, an appearance, of improper command influence even when it’s not exerted or currently unlawful.

Military case law on unlawful command influence has evolved considerably in the last 10 years.