Judge delays rulings after Hasan, prosecution miss deadlines

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on June 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 5 at 5:19 PM

FORT HOOD  –– A military judge delayed a ruling on two critical issues for accused mass murderer Maj. Nidal Hasan because neither the defense nor the prosecution submitted requested material by the deadline this morning.

“This is a court of law,” said Col. Tara Osborn, the military judge in this case. “I have to actually read what you write. I have to consider it with thoughtful deliberation … I cannot do that with less than 30-minutes before we come into an Article 39A session.”

Judge Osborn requested Hasan present evidence by 10:30 a.m. that would support his “defense of others” strategy saying he was trying to protect Taliban leaders and the former government of Afghanistan when he opened fire on post killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in 2009.

In addition, the judge wanted Hasan to explain why he needs a 90-day delay to the start of the trial.

But Hasan submitted them at noon, the judge said. Prosecutors, also under the same deadline to file their responses, submitted them after 11 a.m.

Judge Osborn ordered both sides to comply with future deadlines. 

She also ordered Army prosecutors to provide Hasan with all the resources he needs in his office including legal research materials, except for the Internet, so he can file “meaningful” responses.

The missed deadlines now push back jury selection even further. They were supposed to begin today. The judge moved it back to Monday. Now, Col. Osborn is ordering prosecutors to send the 18 potential jurors, Army officers who are known as panelists, back to their military posts. 

Hasan now has until Monday evening to resubmit his motions for a continuance and supporting evidence for his defense strategy.

The judge reconvenes court on Tuesday morning. 

Hasan also asked the court to order his standby counsel, the military attorneys he ditched, to conduct legal research for him. 

But Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, the former lead defense attorney, worried that would lead to legal advice which he opposes.

“I believe that crosses the line as a standby counsel. I become a shadow attorney for Maj. Hasan as opposed to someone who’s there just to assist,” Poppe told Col. Osborn.

Still, the judge ordered Poppe to comply with Hasan’s request for legal research.

The U.S. Army continues to add security improvements around the small courthouse. Besides stacking large shipping containers and HESCO barriers around the building itself, in the last 48-hours the Army erected a chain link fence with barbed wire outside the post’s eastern perimeter.

Armed soldiers are now visible outside the courthouse and the military added an additional screening point outside the building as well.

Despite delays, trial is still scheduled to begin July 1.

Email: jwhitely@wfaa.com

ORIGINAL REPORT, 11 a.m.: 

FORT HOOD –– A military judge will rule this afternoon whether to give accused mass murderer Maj. Nidal Hasan extra time to prepare for his defense after letting him act as his own attorney.

In addition, the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, will also likely decide whether Hasan can present a “defense of others” in which he says he opened fire on dozens of soldiers, killing 13 people and wounding 32 more, to protect leaders of the Taliban and its former government in Afghanistan. 

Hasan’s defense will likely get struck down but he will probably get some kind of continuance, said Ret. Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, a former U.S. Marine who’s also a military defense attorney. 

Hasan asked the judge for a three-month delay in the start of the trial.

“She wants to make sure that he has enough time to do those things that he needs to do and to consult with counsel,” Vokey said. 

Hasan is already making major legal mistakes, Vokey explained. After ditching his military-appointed attorneys on Monday, Vokey said Hasan revealed his defense strategy in court before he had to which gave the judge an opportunity to consider early on whether he can pursue it.

If Col. Osborn refuses to let Hasan present a “defense of others,” then Vokey said the accused mass murderer has little left to fall back on.

“You have some kind of mental responsibility, insanity type of defense,” Vokey added. “However it doesn’t seem the evidence that’s out there now would support that at all. So there may not be any good legal defense to the shootings. Matter of fact, there likely won’t be.”

The hearing begins at noon in a heavily fortified courthouse.

The U.S. Army continues to add security improvements around the small courthouse. Besides stacking large shipping containers and HESCO barriers around the building itself, the Army erected a chain link fence in the last 48 hours with barbed wire outside the post’s eastern perimeter. 

Armed soldiers are now visible outside the courthouse and the military added an additional screening point outside the building as well. 

Col. Tara Osborn delayed the so-called jury selection, known as a panel in the military justice system, until next Monday at the earliest.

Right now, trial is still scheduled to begin July 1.

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com

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