Update: Congress has proposed a bill that would suspend the pay of defendants in pre-trial confinement. The law does have other consequences, though, like the impact to family members who might depend on that income.
The trial of accused Fort Hood shooter US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan seems to run the risk of becoming a circus — if it hasn’t already.
Hasan — essentially accused of committing a terrorist act on US soil — recently fired his attorneys (one of whom had just recently publicized his readiness to defend Hasan). The lawyers apparently all then complained about being forced to advise Hasan anyway, though they have dropped their objections. Hasan then got permission to represent himself, leading some to believe he’ll use the trial as a “soapbox” for his extremist Islamic ideology. In the least, it has offended the victims and the families of those killed, as it places them in the position of being directly cross-examined by the person who they say tried to kill them.
Hasan recently said his defense strategy was going to be “defense of others” — essentially admitting to killing and wounding nearly 50 fellow US soldiers and civilians to “defend” insurgents in Afghanistan. The military judge disallowed that defense.
Some have criticized the US Army’s decision to continue paying Hasan his military salary, but the fact remains he is “innocent” until he is proven guilty (despite his prior attempt to plead guilty). The greater ill is not the amount he is paid, but the length of time. The massacre happened nearly 4 years ago and the trial has yet to start.
Hasan’s trial is now set to begin July 9th.