Accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan will be back in a Fort Hood courtroom today, at which time the judge may rule on the validity of his defense.
Hasan’s previous hearing Tuesday was halted before any rulings could be made on Hasan’s decision to pursue a strategy that would frame the Fort Hood shooting as a defense of Taliban leaders.
The proceedings leading up to Hasan’s death penalty court-martial have become entangled since the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist was granted a request to represent himself at trial.
The gray area in which Hasan’s former defense attorneys now find themselves is the most recent snare for the hearings. The attorneys told the court Tuesday they felt assisting Hasan in his defense would cross an ethical line.
Former lead defense attorney Lt. Col Kris R. Poppe did not elaborate, telling the judge going into specifics would violate attorney-client privilege. The presiding judge, Col. Tara Osborn, gave Hasan’s three standby attorneys until Wednesday to submit sealed documents explaining why they cannot assist Hasan.
The attorneys have likely repeatedly advised Hasan to not pursue his defense of others strategy, according to military law expert Geoffrey Corn, a professor at South Texas College of Law.
“They believe it is unethical to be complicit in his effort to present this theory,” said Corn, a retired lieutenant colonel who worked as chief prosecutor for the 101st Airborne Division.
Osborn ordered Hasan’s standby counsel to assist him when requested, which Corn said may show that Osborn will not allow Hasan to argue a defense of others in trial.
Their assistance to Hasan would help bolster a rejection of his defense and continuance in the eyes of an appellate court.
“(Osborn) just wants as solid a record as possible when she says I’m not allowing you to present that defense,” he said.