The delayed court-martial of the accused Fort Hood shooter took another step forward with government filings at a military appeals court.
Several appeals from Maj. Nidal Hasan’s defense team have held up Hasan’s trial indefinitely as they move their way through the military appeals court system.
Two lengthy filings submitted to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces could be the last step before the appeals process concludes.
Hasan has sought to prevent Fort Hood judge Col. Gregory Gross from having soldiers forcibly shave the beard Hasan claims to have grown for religious purposes. His attorneys also want to invalidate contempt hearings that resulted from Hasan violating military uniform regulations and to have Gross removed from the case.
In responses filed late Friday, government attorneys representing Gross argued that Gross has shown no evidence of bias and that he maintains the authority to shave Hasan.
Hasan, 42, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in connection to the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting on post.
Hasan contends Gross has proved he is not impartial because of his presence on post the day of the shooting, his order to remove Hasan from the court because of the beard and denials of requests for continuances among many other things.
The most recent finding notes that Gross has granted defense requests several times, including allocating $219,500 in additional funds for multiple experts and allowing the defense access to emails of prospective jurors.
“An accused should not be given ‘veto power’ over the assignment of a military judge merely because they are not satisfied with all of the judge’s rulings,” the brief states.
The filings also reaffirmed the position taken by the prosecution in September regarding Hasan’s beard. They state that it is equally likely that Hasan grew his beard out of religious expression or for secular purposes.
They note that Hasan may only be using his beard as a form of defiance against the U.S. Army. The filing also states Hasan may be altering his appearance in order to avoid identification at trial.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces had issued no orders regarding the latest filings Monday. The court could require attorneys to make in-person arguments or it could issue a text ruling.
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