What Is the Definition of a Lawful Order

A few points are obvious. What is a manifestly illegal order? It is an order that “a person with a normal mind and understanding” would know is illegal. This is the test that the military court of appeals at the time (now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces) put in the case of Army First Lieutenant William L. Calley Jr., who was convicted in connection with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. An order to shoot to kill unarmed civilians or perform any other act that is itself criminal would be permissible, but shades of gray may obviously appear. Apart from the very clear case, a soldier who ignores an order can roll the dice on the assumption that he is illegal. (iv) Relationship to military service. The order must refer to military service, which includes all activities reasonably necessary for the performance of a military mission or to protect or promote the morality, discipline and utility of the members of a command and be directly related to the maintenance of good order in the service. The College cannot interfere with private rights or personal affairs without such a valid military objective.

However, the dictates of a person`s conscience, religion, or personal philosophy cannot justify or excuse disobedience to an otherwise legal order. Disobedience to an order that has as its sole object the attainment of a private purpose or that is granted solely for the purpose of increasing the penalty for an offence that the accused is alleged to commit is not punishable under this section. The relevant question is therefore what is the “purpose” of a police officer to give orders during a traffic control. Maybe the goal is to issue a warning or quote and do it safely. The goal may be to increase the safety of public roads in general. Whatever the “purpose” of a traffic control officer, however, it is difficult to see how Bland`s order to extinguish his cigarette was reasonably designed to achieve that or any other objective (we are not dealing with a situation where Bland smoked a cigarette in a car full of explosives). While it can theoretically be argued that the soldier might have feared that Bland would throw a cigarette at him and then fire a firearm, a review of the video of the arrest does not indicate that the officer feared for his safety or reasonably believed that he was dealing with a person who could aggravate the situation into an armed confrontation. And in any event, if such subjective possibilities legitimize an agent`s order, essentially any order of an agent could be justified as being related to security, thus eviscerating any limit of what constitutes a “legal order”. Due to the vagueness of the law, it is unclear whether the soldier`s order to Bland to take out his cigarette was a “legal order.” The Trooper thought so. It seems that Bland did not. Opposing views led to an escalation of the situation that led to the arrest and imprisonment and finally, and tragically, to Bland`s death.

A number of states, including Texas, Illinois, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and New York, have statutory regulatory laws on their books. These laws prohibit citizens from not complying with the legal orders of police officers empowered to regulate or control traffic. However, most courts, including those in Texas, are largely silent on the definition of what constitutes a “legal order” related to traffic control. Contempt is defined as disobedience or resistance to a legal order of a court or judge, and any erroneous order or judgment of a court is illegal. [In re Cohen, 5 Cal. 494, 495 (Cal. 1855)]. Good order and discipline are the buzzwords well known to armed forces around the world.

A disciplined force is a force in which understandable and legal orders are given and quickly followed. But do all orders have to be followed? If not, what should a soldier do? These issues are not new, but they are particularly topical given the concerns that many naturally have about the possibility of the Trump administration using the armed forces in dubious ways before, during, and even after the 2020 election, even though Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has insisted that the armed forces will not be involved in the election. In fact, you have to go back to 1973 to find a court that meets the challenge to the definition of a “legal order.” Menschen gegen Jennings, 347 N.Y.S.2d 818 (N.Y. Nur. Ct. 1973). In the Jennings case, the court categorically rejected the prosecutor`s claim that “lawful” means any order “that does not compel the operator to break the law.” The court noted that the adoption of such a definition would “subject the passing motorist to the slightest whim of the officer” who is authorized to direct traffic. Unfortunately, the court then adopted the ambiguous rule that an order is legal if that order is “reasonably designed to achieve its purpose.” The court did not specify the “legal order” or describe the legitimate objectives that were to be achieved by a particular order. The lack of clarity on the definitions of these terms is precisely the problem that can lead a driver to reasonably believe that he is being harassed by an officer and to reject an officer`s Picayune order – especially if the order does not appear to have an impact on traffic control or law enforcement in general. What does the military law say about orders, and what can happen if a soldier is disobedient? There are potentially severe penalties for non-compliance with legal orders.

A disobedient soldier could simply be “chewed” or punished in court if the commander considers disobedience a minor offense. But disobedience to a legal order can, depending on the circumstances, lead to the death penalty in time of war and peace, up to five years in prison, stigmatizing parole (dishonorable or bad behavior for enlisted personnel, dismissal of non-commissioned officers), loss of wages and other sanctions. Under Florida Act 316.072(3), the crime of non-compliance with a lawful police order is committed when a person intentionally fails to obey or refuses to obey the lawful order or direction of a police officer when driving a vehicle or bicycle, or walking on a highway. [1] It is tempting to suggest that Congress or the executive branch should clarify the law regarding illegal orders, but military law is probably as clear as it is given the vagaries of military operations, the indifference of Mr. Trump to previously accepted government standards, the nation`s current turmoil and the number of people allowed to military orders can be given. While precedents may not be known to the average soldier, each judge`s lawyer is trained in these matters, and any soldier who seriously doubts the legality of an order should seek legal advice unless immediate action is required. If it is not practical to seek legal advice, a soldier facing an order of dubious legality may also turn to a senior officer and request that the order be thwarted. After stopping Bland for a missing signal, the officer asked her to remove her cigarette – a product she was legally allowed to smoke at the time of the stop. When Bland refused, the officer ordered him to leave the vehicle. Bland also refused this order, and an argument ensued. Throughout the meeting, the officer repeated the following refrain: “I will give you a legitimate order.” But was the agent right? Was the official legally authorized to order Bland to remove his cigarette? And after Bland refused this order, was the officer then allowed to order Bland to leave his vehicle? With the growing public scrutiny of law enforcement behavior, it`s time for lawmakers and courts to provide clearer guidance on how to define what constitutes a “legal order.” The first problem is what counts as an “order”.

When an official approaches you and asks you to do something, it`s usually just a request, not an order. But if there is a law in the books that says you must comply with the agent`s request, then the request will be treated as an order. You can`t know what an “order” is unless you first study the law, which you probably didn`t do before the official approached you. .