Army Judge Rejects Fort Hood Gunman’s Defense Strategy

By: Rachel Cox Email
By: Rachel Cox Email
Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan won’t be allowed to mount a defense based on the claim he shot U.S. troops at Fort Hood to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

(Sketch by Brigitte Woosley)

FORT HOOD (June 14, 2013)--Military judge Col. Tara Osborn Friday rejected Maj. Nidal Hasan’s plan to mount a defense based on the claim he shot U.S. troops in 2009 at Fort Hood to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

Hasan laid out the strategy after Osborn granted his request that he be allowed to represent himself in his court-martial.

But Osborn said Friday that Hasan's "defense of others" strategy fails as a matter of law.

She said no soldiers at the post on Nov. 5, 2009, posed an immediate threat to anyone in Afghanistan and said the legitimacy of the Afghanistan war is not an issue at Hasan's trial, which hasn't started.

"The legitimacy of the defense is nonjusticiable and a political question," Osborn said during the 45-minute hearing Friday afternoon.

In proceedings in which a case or defense is deemed to be “nonjusticiable,” the judge does not have to hear the argument.

Hasan objected to the ruling, but Osborn said she would be moving on to the next issue and did not allow for further comments on the strategy.

Osborn granted motions filed by two of the paralegals assigned to Hasan’s defense who asked to be allowed to allowed to leave the case, but said both will have to be replaced.

She said Hasan must have access to three paralegals as well as standby lawyers.

Hasan’s lawyers were also seeking to be removed from the case, arguing that they felt they were being forced to cross an ethical line in their role as standby counsel while the Army psychiatrist defended himself.

Osborn Friday asked all three members of them what they perceived standby counsel's role to be in this case.

Lt. Col. Kris Poppe said he thought their role was to assist Hasan in navigating the procedures of the court and assist in filing evidence and witness motions.

All three lawyers have insisted that offering their legal opinions would be unethical and continue to do so.

The judge ordered all three lawyers to file what they believe standby counsel's role will be in this case by June 17, at 12 p.m.

Osborn stated that there would be another hearing June 18, but did not specify a time.

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