Legal Experts Predict More Delays
The long and winding criminal case against accused Fort Hood shooting suspect Major Nidal Hasan took another turn Tuesday, when the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals appointed a new judge, Col. Tara Osborn, to oversee the trial. Osborn replaces Col. Gregory Gross, who was removed by the appeals court a day earlier because of perceived bias he had against the defendant. Gross had repeatedly held Hasan in contempt of court for Hasan's refusal to shave his beard, which violates Army grooming standards. Hasan claims the beard is a legitimate expression of his Muslim faith. The appeals court did not rule on the beard issue, but Texas legal experts think it may become a moot point with the new judge. "The new judge will allow (Hasan) to wear the beard into court," predicts Jeff Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University Law School in San Antonio.
Addicott tells KTRH appointing a new judge will only serve to draw out the process even more, and likely embolden Hasan to continue his stalling tactics. "Hopefully we can get the trial started," he says. "But there'll be other shenanigans by the defense counsel because they smell blood in the water, that this system is so politically correct they can almost get away with anything." What exactly does Professor Addicott mean by "shenanigans?" "The defense will challenge the new judge as being biased, and they'll raise the same objections they had with this previous judge."
While Addicott believes this trial has become a circus, he thinks it's only part of a bigger problem with the military courts. "The last time they executed a murderer in the military was 1961, and that's primarily because of a broken military appellate system," he says. The trial was already delayed from March to June, then to August. Now, Addicott expects it will be at least six months before any trial begins. His advice to the new judge: "Good luck to her, because this case is a landmine."