As I mentioned last night, #3 overlaps with #9 on this year’s list and has previously appeared on our end of the year retrospective. Way back in 2010 we speculated that:

It is difficult to imagine how this case will not become the next capital court-martial, which will also raise all of the old issues with capital cases in the military–inadequate funding, inexperienced counsel (though Maj. Hasan currently has experienced civilian counsel and the TC is very experienced), and general views on the death penalty in America. Me thinks this isn’t the last Top 10 list that will feature this story.

That year we made the Ft. Hood shootings the #1 military justice story of 2010. At the time we also probably should have warned everyone that it would take more than two years to even get the case into a courtroom.

What we couldn’t have planned for was a nearly six month delay in the case while many fine jurists debated the length of MAJ Hasan’s facial hair. What began as a request to depart from grooming standards, and finally resulted in a CAAF opinion that dismissed the military judge for conflict of interest reasons, wound up right where it started, but with a new military judge.  The new judge, COL Tara Osborn, ruled that MAJ Hasan can attend trial, if he wishes, with his beard.

Aside from Beard-gate, actual progress was being made in the court-martial, including potential members questionnaires and discussion of motions regarding pre-trial publicity and MAJ Hasan’s ability to get a fair trial and fair treatment from the convening authority.  But, alas, Beard-gate consumed the better part of the last half of 2012 and now the trial looks to be set for . . . some time after mid-March according to the Ft. Hood docket.

Will there be more fascinating discussion of grooming standards at trial?  Probably.  Will 2013 finally see a trial on charges for the most notorious shooting of fellow servicemembers in the collective conscience of our nation?  Hopefully.  This is a military capital case so rushing into this thing isn’t necessary, though a little forward progress would be nice.  I mean this was the same year that two capital courts-martial became non-capital cases after successful appeals and primarily because of rulings that always struck me as expedient but not particularly wise (though I am a tad biased).  As with #3, I see this one appearing at least one more time on our Top 10 list, though that’s not exactly going out on a limb in this case.

3 Responses to “Top 10 military justice stories of 2012 – #2 The Major Nidal Hasan Court-Martial”

  1. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    This should have been the top mil jus story of 2010, which is when the trial should have been.  It might well have made the list in 2011 as well, when CAAF reviewed the case on appeal.
    As it is, this case may take more time to get to trial than it took the United States to defeat the Empire of Japan in WWII.  Sigh.

  2. SFC V says:

    If Texas had tried him he would probably be close to exhausting all his appeals by now as it is we will probably wait another 20 years before ACCA issues an opinion on his appeal.
    This is a case where the government could probably give the defense much of what they want and still get a conviction and death sentence.  If I were the trial counsel I would probably approach the defense and see if I could just agree to any of their demands regarding evidence, members, and other motions.  If you give the defense what they ask for they can’t appeal the issue and you get to take the high road by bending over backwards to accomodate the defense. 

  3. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    I can’t speak for how things have gone in the Hasan case, but sadly that has not been the attitude in cases where a death sentence at a court-martial seems nearly impossible NOT to achieve. We’ll see here. The latest fiasco was a purely military judge driven exercise, which is what has always boggled my mind.