I thought I’d post initially on the case of the United States v. Major Nadal Hasan. In the next few months, that case will begin to heat up in the courtroom as well as in the public forums. Before I begin, lets open with a few ground rules on what might become ongoing commentary by me.
First, I will attempt to avoid second-guessing the lawyers assigned to the case. This, of course, is an extremely tall order considering that there will be times when I will remark on various decisions by Major Hasan’s retained and detailed counsel. For instance, today I will discuss the open posture that the retained defense counsel adopted in the case and whether being so open with the case and his representation is advisable at this point. My goal is to never condemn. Rather, I will discuss the pros and cons of various tactical decisions.
Second, I plan to provide commentary on the proceeding itself. The acts giving rise to the court-martial are of no interest to me except that they are the subject matter. I am focused more on the nuts and bolts of criminal representation–not on the fact that murder is horrible and that what happened at Ft. Hood is a tragedy. I acknowledge that. No argument here.
Third, I have been asked several questions about military trial procedure. I intend to use this case to highlight several key parts of the military trial process that may be instructive to those with interest. For instance, what on earth is an Article 32 hearing? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that eventually.
Fourth, I have no inside information. I am not friends with the defense counsel nor am I friends with the prosecutor. I do not know them. Like many of you, I know what I know from reading media sources and the internet. The only thing that separates me from the average Criminal Defense Lawyer (CDL) is my immersion in military law for the last 6+ years. If you are looking here for breaking news, you are looking in the wrong place.
Fifth, I have never tried a death penalty case, and I have no aspirations to do so. These are few and far between in the military. I may occasionally comment on my opinion of the death penalty (I don’t like it). Also, I may analyze the economical feasibility of the death penalty (its really, really expensive). While much of the trial procedure will be similar to any other court-martial, much of it will also be distinct. For instance, the judge in the case will likely be much more liberal in the granting of continuances and other relief for the defense, and there are logical reasons for this. We will, hopefully, have a solid chance to discuss these logical reasons. However, when it comes to the death penalty, I have not “been there, done that.”
So, lets move forward.