By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD - Retired Col. John Galligan will no longer represent Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.
The change was announced in court Wednesday during Hasan's arraignment as he confirmed to the judge he released Galligan and wished to be represented by his Army-appointed lawyers when the court-martial starts March 5, 2012.
Hasan's lawyers, Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe, Maj. Christopher E. Martin and Capt. Justin Oshana, are assigned to the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service. Poppe and Martin have served on the defense team since charges were filed in late 2009.
Rumors of the change arose earlier this week, but Galligan wouldn't confirm them until after Wednesday's arraignment. He did not appear in the courtroom.
"Today marks my leave of absence as a member of the Hasan defense team," he wrote in a statement released from his Belton-based office. "I will not at this time detail the reasons prompting this development."
Galligan said in the statement he has consistently argued Hasan was not treated fairly.
"I maintain that belief," he wrote. "As such, I deeply regret that my presence on the defense team has been interrupted. However, Maj. Hasan fully understands that I stand ready and anxious to resume an active role."
Galligan has served as Hasan's lead defense attorney since he was hired by the suspected shooter's family on Nov. 9, 2009 - four days after the shooting at Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center in which 13 were killed and more than 30 were wounded.
Wednesday's arraignment was set by Col. Gregory Gross, Fort Hood's chief circuit judge, to discuss Hasan's rights to counsel and allow him to enter a plea and request a reading of the charges.
Hasan waived, through lead attorney Poppe, a reading of the charges for 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder and deferred entering a plea until a later time.
Hasan, 40, may request to enter a plea at a later date, according to information from Fort Hood. Military law says suspects charged in death-penalty cases are not allowed to plead guilty.
Hasan requested to be tried by a panel of 12 officers.
Wednesday was Hasan's first court appearance since his Article 32 ended in mid-November.
He was wheeled into the courtroom wearing what he has appeared in during previous court sessions - an Army Combat Uniform and green fleece cap. He removed the cap soon after taking his place beside Poppe. Hasan spoke quietly with his attorneys several times during the 22-minute hearing and answered questions from Gross when asked.
Gross said he directed all to wear their dress blue uniforms, but the defense requested and was granted an exception for Hasan because of "medical reasons."
Family members of two victims, retired Chief Warrant Officer-2 Michael Cahill and Spc. Jason Dean "J.D." Hunt, were present in the courtroom.