Blogging from the office today. Tuesday's hearing was an abbreviated, but revealing affair. Maj. Nidal Hasan's ex-attorneys, now standby counsel, have not been assisting the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist with legal research. They have not provided opinions or other advice to help Hasan prepare his "defense of others."
They disagree with the tactic. What's more, they have been ordered to assist their former client by presiding judge Col. Tara Osborn. Osborn showed frustration with the attorney's Tuesday, again ordering them to provide any legal assistance Hasan asks for. They are filing a sealed motion today to explain why they are refusing.
A more detailed summary can be found in our article that published today.
I had an interesting conversation with a professor at South Texas College of Law named Geoffrey Corn last night. Corn, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Army, worked extensively in the JAG.
He said he believes what happened in Tuesday's hearing shows that Osborn has already made up her mind to reject Hasan's "frivolous" defense — that he was defending the Taliban — and is working to make sure she covers all her tracks before making a ruling.
Osborn is pushing Hasan's standby counsel to provide him all the assistance he requests prior to rejecting the defense, and likely his request for a delay, Corn said. "It bolsters her rejection of his defense theory," he said.
But assisting Hasan places his standby attorneys in a quandary. Disclosing why they feel they are crossing an ethical line in open court or open filings would not only violate attorney-client privilege, provided they have previously advised against pursuing a defense of others. Or it could be even worse. "If he (standby attorney Lt. Col Kris R. Poppe) has to disclose why he doesn’t want to give Hasan this help, he basically is going to have to disclose that this is not meritorious."