The judge in the murder trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan on Friday denied a motion from a civilian lawyer to allow victims of the Fort Hood shooting to talk about the deadly attack.
Col. Tara Osborn dismissed the motion, which was filed Thursday by attorney Neal Sher. Sher is representing victims of the shooting in a lawsuit against the federal government. Among them are Shawn Manning and Alonzo Lunsford, survivors who testified against Hasan, who faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and other charges.
The motion asked Osborn to lift her instructions to witnesses on making “extrajudicial” statements about the shooting. According to the motion, Sher said his clients had no interest in speaking about their testimony, but did want to speak out about their lives after Nov. 5, 2009.
“The prosecutors have told them that the prohibition extends to the matters about which they wished to speak,” the motion reads. “However, they have raised with me questions about the need and basis of such an order.”
In the courtroom Friday, Osborn said the order was “standard” and given to all witnesses.
“There’s no limitations on the press from what happens in open court,” she said. “This is a standard instruction I give to all witnesses.”
Osborn said the order was temporary and would expire at the end of the trial.
Sher represents more than 100 shooting victims and family members in a lawsuit that contests the Defense Department’s classification of the shooting as “workplace violence.” Many of those clients claim they were denied essential medical care and benefits because of the government’s refusal to classify the shooting as a combat-related incident.
Sher said Osborn gave “no significant explanation” for her denial of his motion. “Regrettably, some victims of the Fort Hood shooting are still being unfairly silenced,” Sher said in a statement Friday. “Judge Osborn’s cursory oral ruling failed completely to address the issues raised in my motion.”
Sher said he is contemplating an appeal.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.