(June 3, 2013) - KWTX posted on facebook earlier this month asking for your questions involving Nidal Hasan and the trial that still has not started yet years after the Fort Hood Shootings in November 2009.
Many of you responded and we took your questions to a military expert for answers.
Below is the transcription from that interview. You can also click on the video links to hear the answers yourself.
Rachel Cox (Reporter): Why are they continuing to pay his salary? Why is it something that is still happening?
Scott Crivelli (The Carlson Law Firm):
Absolutely, the.. the uniform code of military justice prevents any sort of pretrial punishment. Because the military system is unique, and he is a soldier, and the United States Army decided to take this case on, they're not permitted to do anything that could be considered punishment.
Now, I understand that there's preconceived notions about what happened and about the.. the person's guilt, but he hasn't been found guilty yet and so based on the UCMJ, to take away any sort of pay, or benefit, or punish him any other way, would be would be considered a pretrial punishment.
It's strictly prohibited and because the way the UCMJ is written, any sort of pretrial punishment would have to be remedied off his sentence and so I guess the question would be if he gets sentenced to death what's the only remedy that can be granted to someone who's been sentenced to death--which is take death off the table, which from the government's perspective would kind of vitiate the entire effort.
Reporter: Kind of what was the over all end all on this beard?
Well the overall end all on the beard issue was that essentially the Courts of Appeals in the military punted on the issue.
They didn't rule directly that he could or could not have the beard in the court room.
What they ruled was the prior judge had shown some sort of partial..partiality or bias in the way he ruled on these issues.
It was a way of pushing the issue down the road.
However, within the ruling there was kind of guidance provided to the...the new judge that said it's probably not causing a problem, but we're not going to tell you you can't order him not to do it.
Basically telling the judge, "Leave it alone and just let the trial take its course."
And so, long story short he's going to be allowed to have the... the beard, whatever issue that causes for panel members or jurors, he or his defense team can explore that through voir dire and from there on he's going to have to live with it.
Reporter: Naat holding rank of major, one comment was that the military refers to him as an inmate and only the media is calling him major.
He is still a major.
Inmate is not the appropriate term until he's been convicted.
He's still a major.
Again, whether people like it or not, he's innocent until proven guilty.
As we talked about before, the ucmj prohibits any sort of pretrial punishment so stripping him of any sort of rank, or duty position, or job description, would be considered pretrial punishment which again brings the issue is how do we remedy that later on and it's an issue that we just don't want to deal with.
Reporter: Ok. Why his he referred to as an alleged suspect?
Again, I think that it's a basic tenant of American law--you're innocent until proven guilty. Whether we have preconceived notions, until he's been found guilty, he has to be referred to in certain terms.
In trial he will be called all kinds of things by the by the prosecution.
That's because they're trying to prove something.
Until then though, the fair thing is to refer to him as an alleged suspect and let the system take its course.
Reporter: There are some people that believe he got a higher rank.
To my knowledge that has not happened.
He is a major and that's it.
To my knowledge, he has not been promoted.
I'm not aware of a board.
I don't think that he would be promoted, in fact, I know he wouldn't be.
When you're undergoing UCMJ action, what they'll do is they'll put a flag on your case and a flag is just kind of a note within the computer's personnel system, or the military's personnel system that says all actions will be put on hold until we resolve this issue.
Reporter: Why is it taking so long to get to trial?
Well, I mean there is a lot of reasons why it's taking so long.
We're breaking new ground, it's military, it's a court marshal process, it's the first time that we've had something even remotely close to this happen in the military.
The army chose to retain jurisdiction rather than pass it on to the federal government and that requires a lot of different approaches to a trial like this that wouldn't exist in the civilian world.
So, although it may have been over a year or two ago, if it was a federal prosecution, here we are four years later and hopefully we can get some resolution for everybody involved in the very near future.
Reporter: Why is he at Bell County, in a county jail, not at like say Fort Leavenworth, for a military trial?
Right, because the crime occurred here.
Major Hasan was a soldier under the convening authority or the commanding general of Fort Hood and III Corps.
The III Corps general is the one who preferred and then ultimately referred charges in this case and by doing that he is saying the trial is going to exist at Fort Hood.
The military system is a little bit different.
There is no court, per say, there is not an always existing court house with a four fourteenth or three thirty six district court.
It doesn't exist in the military.
The court only exist when the general kind of waves his magic military wand and says there is going to be a court marshal and there will be a court.
And he did that in this case because he was under his jurisdiction so we now have a court marshal here.
To house him anywhere else at Leavenworth would be logistically impossible.
They've explored having the case in different bases or different areas but it was for a different reason...to ensure that he can get a fair and unbiased jury not because it didn't occur or should occur here or should occur somewhere else.
Reporter: He's got to be given a fair trial. Could this potentially end up being millions of dollars?
This potentially could be the most expensive prosecution in the history of the country.
If you break down all the numbers, the committed personnel, Major Hasan has got 3 dedicated, actually he has 4 dedicated officers that are lawyers serving the Jag Core that's sole job is to represent him.
He's got numerous paralegals that he's hired on as GS employees to help in the defense.
Additionally, there's another 3 to 4 prosecuting attorneys whose sole duty is to prosecute this case over the last 4 years.
We're talking about salaries, benefits..
The experts, because of the wide array of charges and the number alleged victims that are required, it's just astronomical the amount of money it is going to cost but that's the nature of a prosecution when there's a crime this degree that's occurred.
It takes time, it takes money and it takes people.