Battle Of The Beard Ends; New Judge Says Hasan Doesn’t Have To Shave

(Sketch by Brigette Woosley)
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FORT HOOD (December 18, 2012)--U.S. Army Col. Tara Osborn, who was named earlier this month to preside over the case of accused Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan, won’t require Hasan to shave.

The issue was the final one that Osborn addressed during a pretrial hearing Tuesday.

“I see you are wearing a beard,” she told Hasan.

“You understand that you are outside of the Army uniform regulations?” she asked.

“I’m not going to hold that against you, but some members of the (jury) panel may,” she said.

Hasan indicated that he understood.

Hasan is awaiting court-martial in the November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Center that left 13 dead and two-dozen injured.

On Dec. 4 Osborn was named to replace Col Gregory Gross, whom the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ousted on Dec. 3.

The court also tossed Gross’ order that Hasan must shave or would be shaved forcibly before the court-martial begins.

The court ruled that the command, not the judge, is responsible for enforcing grooming standards and said Gross didn't appear to be impartial in his handling of the case.

“Thus, taken together, the, decision to remove Appellant from the courtroom, the contempt citations, and the decision to order Appellant’s forcible shaving in the absence of any command action to do the same, could lead an objective observer to conclude that the military judge was not impartial towards Appellant,” the ruling said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is the highest-level appellate court for the U.S. military.

Hasan’s court-martial was on hold for months because of the battle over the Army psychiatrist’s beard.

The Dec. 3 decision came in Hasan’s appeal of a ruling in October by the U.S. Army Court of Appeals that Hasan has no right to wear a beard in uniform during his court-martial.

(Read The U.S. Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces Ruling)

(Read The U.S. Army Court of Appeals Ruling)

The Army Court of Appeals upheld Gross’ finding that Hasan failed to prove the beard is an expression of a sincerely held religious belief and said even if the beard were such an expression, “compelling government interests” also justified Gross’ order that Hasan meet Army grooming standards.

The court also upheld previous contempt findings against Hasan in which he was fined $1,000 six times for appearing in court out of uniform because of his beard.

The defense filed appeals seeking a ruling on whether the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act allowed Hasan to keep the beard.

The first sought to overturn contempt findings against Hasan in previous hearings and to bar any future contempt proceedings over the beard.

The second sought a ruling on whether the act allows Hasan to have a beard while in military uniform during his court-martial.