Ft. Hood - The judge denied Major Abu Nidal Malik Hasan’s motion for a 3-month delay to develop his defense.
Col. Tara Osborn tentatively scheduled August 6 - only one week later than originall scheduled - as the first day of presentation of evidence and testimony in the general court martial of Major Hasan for premeditated capital murder of 13 unarmed soldiers and the wounding of 32 others who were preparing for overseas assignments on Nov. 5, 2009.
A special venire of 80 panelists will be summoned during voir dire examinations of platoons of 12 prospective jurors at a time in order to seat a principal panel and alternates. The voir dire examinations will begin on July 9.
The judge settled a long rankling dispute between Major Hasan and his three former defense counsel, all Army lawyers who objected to being asked to provide legal advice after their being relegated to the status of standby counsel.
She obtained Maj. Hasan’s agreement that it is his “responsibility to represent yourself in front of the (jury) panel. It is the responsibility of the standby counsel to assist you.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Maj. Hasan answered. He acknowledged that he knows he will be expected to follow the same rules as professional attorneys.
Defense counsel offered no objection to the ruling.
Maj. Hasan withdrew his motion for a continuance when the judge asked him, “Are you ready to proceed?”
“I will take whatever the court orders,” he replied. I’m withdrawing my request.”
Judge Osborn asked him the second time, saying that “The Court’s paramount concern is to see that the accused receives a fair trial.”
There were numerous brief interruptions to the hearing while the judge recessed in order to contact military officials at Ft. Bragg in order to unsnarl scheduling conflicts over the production of members of the panel of prospective jurors and the ability of a Dr. Frederick to appear as an expert in the questioning of jurors in their selection.
An audio distortion problem with the judge’s directional microphone caused numerous delays that sent correspondents and television journalists scurrying from the digital overflow courtroom to a waiting area to contact their offices with revised estimate of when they would have live reports.
A final piece of business concerned the filing of a sealed security plan by prosecutors to ensure the safety of witnesses, the defendant and court officers.
“Disclosure of the security plan will defeat the reason for the security plan to start with...I am unaware of any direct threat to any specific person,” Judge Osborn said.
She cautioned both lawyers for the government and the defense that the courthouse is situated on the edge of the military installation, less than 100 yards from principal Killeen thoroughfares.
“This is a capital murder trial, and I urge you to exercise caution at all times.”