The Mayer Law Blog

Hasan Court-Martial Verdict (Sort of)

Posted August 6th, 2012 in Courts-Martial, News

Major Nidal Hasan has been found guilty–of contempt.

It seems that Hasan, for religious reasons, chooses to sport an impressive (by some standards) beard, and the military judge in his court-martial is none too happy about it. To date, Colonel Gregory Gross has held Hasan in contempt of court and excluded him from a few pretrial hearings (though allowed him to view via VTC and communicate with his counsel).

So, Hasan loses $1000, the punishment for contempt, and he faces the possibility of being shaven by force prior to trial. Just so you know, he still receives full pay and benefits as he awaits his trial.

Note: There is a procedure for receiving religious accommodations in the military. It requires a bit of bureaucratic maneuvering, but it is possible, as a few Sikh soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are allowed to wear full beards. I think another also wears a nifty camo turban. To my knowledge, Hasan has not applied for an official accommodation.

Now, I’ve appeared before Judge Gross on a couple of occasions, served as one of his part-time magistrates, and observed him in other cases when the defense counsel who worked for me represented their clients at courts-martial. My experience is that he is generally mild-mannered and fair. While he didn’t always rule as I wished, I never perceived that he was a government hack, nor favoring any particular ideology at court-martial.

Considering the scrutiny that the Hasan case will receive on appeal (assuming he is found guilty and sentenced to death), it will be interesting to see how the judge proceeds as the trial nears. If you read the linked Time article, you’ll see that scholars have differing opinions as to how the judge should respond.

It will also be interesting to observe the level of client control exhibited by assigned defense counsel.

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