Hasan court martial stalled over issue of attorney's role

CNN
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 9:00am

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Selection of the jury panel for Maj. Nidal Hasan's court-martial was supposed to start last week, but the process has been stalled over issues surrounding his plan to act as his own attorney.

Hasan faces a possible death sentence in connection to the November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas that killed 13 people and injured dozens of others.

"It is very frustrating," said shooting survivor Mick Engnehl of the delay. He was an Army specialist preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan when he was shot twice during the massacre. His injuries left him unable to remain in the Army or get a civilian job.

The panel selection was set to start last Wednesday, more than three and a half years after the shooting.

But just a few days earlier Hasan announced he wanted to serve as his own lawyer. That led to a series of motions and hearings.

The latest hearing was Tuesday. At issue is whether Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, the officer who had been serving as Hasan's lead defense attorney, was adequately assisting Hasan defend himself.

According to a base news release, Hasan felt that Poppe provided very limited support because of a disagreement over his strategy.

Poppe told the judge, who had ordered him to assist Hasan, that he believed he had fulfilled his duty to assist Hasan and that any more assistance would force Poppe's to cross ethical lines.

Col. Tara Osborn, the judge in Hasan's case, told Poppe he has until noon Wednesday to submit a written, sealed brief to the court listing the factual and legal basis for his belief that he could not comply with the court's order regarding his duties to assist Hasan.

Osborn has not scheduled another hearing in the case nor has she said when the panel selection may actually begin.

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