FORT HOOD — With one week left until the start of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan’s death penalty court-martial, Hasan fired his lawyers and asked to represent himself at trial.
In response, the presiding judge delayed the start of jury selection to June 5. A pretrial hearing scheduled for Wednesday will take up the matter.
It is not the first time Hasan has fired an attorney. In 2011, he fired his civilian counsel, Belton attorney John Galligan.
Hasan has since been represented by military-appointed counsel, who have been successful in securing multiple trial delays and having a judge thrown off the case.
Victims of the shooting received word of Hasan’s request prior to Fort Hood releasing a statement Wednesday.
If Hasan is allowed to represent himself, he would be questioning and cross examining some of the people he is accused of shooting.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder stemming from the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting at Fort Hood.
He has filed letters of intent to plead guilty to all charges, though has been prevented from doing so because the government is seeking the death penalty.
In order for presiding judge Col. Tara Osborn to allow Hasan to represent himself, the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist must prove he is making the decision intelligently and understands the consequences.
The legal standard is that as long as Hasan is determined competent and understands the disadvantages of representing himself, he should be allowed to continue acting as his own counsel, according to the Military Judges’ Benchbook.
“I think it would be an error for a judge to deny (Hasan’s request) and put improper restriction on a defendant that is capable and competent to represent himself,” Galligan said.
Judges are provided a list of 25 questions to ask a defendant, which include several statements that advise them of the disadvantages and dangers of acting as pro se counsel.
Hasan’s counsel would likely be allowed to remain in the courtroom, either as spectators or at the defendants table.
They would still be available to provide Hasan with legal advice, though unable to argue or question witnesses on his behalf unless Hasan gives them permission.
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