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Hasan’s Standby Lawyer Objects Hasan is Trying to Get the Death Penalty
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How to be a lawyer for the deathbound? Nidal Hasan has elected to represent himself in a trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood where he killed 13 soldiers and wounded 30 others, inspired by his email contact with a radical cleric in Yemen. He decided to “switch sides” in what he sees as a war between America and his Islamic faith. Yet, standing as his own attorney, his court-appointed standby lawyer is wondering what to do, and said so, distressed, before the judge.

It is “clear his goal is to remove impediments or obstacles to the death penalty and is working toward the death penalty,” said his attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe.


Hasan replied, “I object. That’s a twist of the facts.”

The judge promptly cleared the court room and called the two forward. Poppe said that Hasan’s behavior as his own attorney is being conducted in a way that “we believe is repugnant to defense counsel and contrary to our professional obligations.”

Again Hasan denied this, saying, “Your honor, Col. Poppe has made an assertion that is inaccurate. I’d like to clarify that.”

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The judge paused for 30 seconds before asking Hasan to put his argument into writing. Hasan refused.

Hasan’s strategy nevertheless seems focused on the death penalty, but military regulations deny the death penalty for guilty please. He also attempted to argue that he went on a shooting rampage “in defense of others,” meaning the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan, but the judge denied this strategy as well, leaving him with an unclear strategy that his standby lawyers are clearly unsettled with.

Indeed, Hasan, seldom at all called on them for advice. A precarious role for a lawyer to be in. The military has not executed a solider since 1961, and its unclear whether Hasan will be able to wrest their arm now.


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