Judge Removed in Ft. Hood Shooting Case

Major Hasan, an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others at the Fort Hood base in Killeen, Tex., in November 2009. This year, he told his lawyers that he began growing a beard out of devotion to his Muslim faith, although Army regulations prohibit soldiers from wearing beards. Army prosecutors had argued that his beard was an attempt to prevent witnesses from identifying him at his trial and to align himself with Islamic extremists.

The judge who has overseen the pretrial hearings at Fort Hood, Col. Gregory Gross, is the chief circuit judge at the base. He has held Major Hasan in contempt and fined him for appearing in court with the beard, calling it a disruption. He removed Major Hasan from the courtroom, ordering him to watch several hearings on closed-circuit television from a nearby trailer….

In its decision on Monday, the appeals court wrote that military commanders, not a military judge, were primarily responsible for enforcing grooming standards. Also, the court ruled there was insufficient evidence that Major Hasan’s beard interfered with the proceedings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/us/military-court-removes-judge-in-fort-hood-rampage-trial.html.

“…insufficient evidence that Major Hasan’s beard interfered with the proceedings.” No kidding. Col. Gross cited Hasan for contempt six times. When that didn’t work, he ordered Hasan forcibly shaved. That led to this appeal, and the removal of Col. Gross.

Prosecutors argued that Hasan’s beard could prevent witnesses from identifying him at the trial. Nearly all defendants in criminal trials appear cleaned up, and sometimes clean-shaven–and virtually all of them can be identified despite their new appearance. How difficult do you think it would be to identify this defendant, sitting in the courtroom, even with his beard?

Hasan

As for whoever the new judge will be: the appellate court warned that if the new judge carries on about this issue, they will hear it on appeal again.

The victims and their families deserve a speedy resolution to this horror, not a spat. So does the military family.

Get on with it.

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3 Responses to Judge Removed in Ft. Hood Shooting Case

  1. Aridog says:

    Glad to find this post still on front page. I’ve been wondering if you feel as I do that the officers who promoted Hasan and sent him off to Fort Hood should be on trial as well? At a minimum that would be his immediate superior and the Walter Reed Installation Commander. With poor evaluations he should never have been promoted and twice passed over, he’d have been out….not at Fort Hood killing people. He got promoted because his superiors were cowards and afraid to face discrimination accusations. The rest is history.

    As for Col Gross…IMO his error was in not ordering the military stockade commander to court and find him in contempt the second time Hasan appeared unshaven. When one is in the stockade, you are assigned formally, with orders, to the stockade and under the direct supervision of the stockade command. It is the same if one is in a military hospital, you are formally assigned there until discharge back to your unit. Been there, done that, in an Evac Hospital…once ambulatory I was on the duty roster…my duty was cleaning bed steads and bed pans with alcohol. I was pretty anxious to be discharged back to my unit.

    Finally…from my perspective this alleged *Court Martial* is being conducted like a civilian trial with all the motions and palavering. What crap…a Court Martial following the findings of an Article 32 investigation is normally to mitigate sentencing. Guilt is already determined and certainly has been in this Hasan case. You are right, the families and the service itself deserves a speedy resolution….and they’re not getting it. Can’t even call it what it is; “terrorism” yet all of my neighbors, 95% Muslim, all say it was terrorism and feel shamed by Hasan. No need for an AR 15-6 investigation to determine if a crime was committed, the Article 32 determination suffices to establish criminality and guilt. The General Court should be merely “bring the guilty bastard in” and sentencing.

    What the flip is going on in our military today?

    • bloggingusmc says:

      Aridog,
      “With poor evaluations he should never have been promoted and twice passed over, he’d have been out.” It may be arduous and time-consuming to pursue poor performance supervision and discipline, including discharge, but that’s not an excuse for failing to do it. Transfer is an unacceptable result. Giving him orders to Afghanistan, with his beliefs, was…nuts.

      As to action against his supervisors, I’m going to have to give you the lawyer’s answer: It depends. I know that they failed to act; I don’t have enough facts to determine how much more culpable they may be. But I haven’t read anything about personnel actions against them.

      Your comments bring to mind an article I read recently about a culture that has grown in the Army since WWII (the only service discussed) that retains poor officers instead of firing them. Essentially, it asks the same question as yours: ” What the flip is going on in our military today?” I need to see if I can find that again, and bring it up here.

      • Aridog says:

        I suspect your “lawyer’s answer” is all we will get on the subject of serial culpability. It has been discussed frequently in the media, but no military authority has mentioned any negative action, even if non-judicial. As for the military degradation, it has been going on for a very long time. A relatively recent high level example is the action by Sec Def Gates and Pres. Bush to not reappoint USMC General Peter Pace as Chairman JCS because they didn’t want a Senate fight over the reappointment. In stead they appoint a Navy Admiral (Mullen) with no actual combat experience to lead a military engaged in two land wars.

        I could run you out of band width with my opinions on how leadership is developed in the military today, especially in the Army, my home for some time. Suffice it to say I think of McChrystal, Petraeus, Dempsey, et al. (all founders & perpetuators of the don’t shoot first ROE’s) as the chaff of the politically expedient and sufficiently nose browning crop. That Obama kept Gates around is all one needs to know about where his head is at…both their heads are at.

        I realize I am extremely prejudiced on the subject. No matter, I’d love to read the article you mentioned if you locate it. The politicization of military ranks is certainly not a new phenomena.

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