United States v. Washington
United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
57 M.J. 394 (2002)
Under a program created by the United States Department of Defense to protect against possible biological weapons, Airman Basic Christopher Washington (defendant) was required to get a series of six anthrax vaccinations. Washington received five vaccinations. However, after hearing reports questioning the vaccine’s safety, Washington did not get his sixth vaccination. Washington’s commander ordered Washington to get the sixth vaccination. Washington refused and received nonjudicial punishment that impacted his pay. Washington’s commander then issued another order for Washington to get his sixth vaccination. Washington told his commander that he would not obey the order. Washington was charged with willful disobedience of a lawful order, and a special court-martial was convened. At the court-martial, Washington stipulated that the order was lawful. Washington argued that his disobedience was justified under either the defense of necessity or the defense of duress because he was trying to avoid bodily injury. The military judge found that neither defense applied and did not allow Washington to present evidence of either defense during the trial. Washington was convicted and sentenced to confinement for two months and a bad-conduct discharge. Washington appealed, arguing that he should have been allowed to present the defenses of necessity and duress.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Effron, J.)
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