"Judge Denies Defense Lawyers’ Request in Fort Hood Case," is the New York Times report by Manny Fernandez. Here's an extended excerpt:
The Army defense lawyers who used to represent Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the military psychiatrist found guilty last week of a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in November 2009, have asked the judge overseeing his military trial here to allow them to do what he refused to do while acting as his own lawyer — persuade a jury to spare his life.
The request was denied and the judge told the jurors to prepare for their deliberations on Wednesday. But the lawyers’ request touched on some of the legal questions raised by Major Hasan’s inaction in the courtroom. One of them is the conflict between his right to self-representation and the requirement that death penalty cases be given extra procedural protections.
The court-martial of Major Hasan has entered its most critical phase, when the jury of 13 Army officers determines whether to sentence him to life in prison or death by lethal injection. He was found guilty Friday of killing 13 people and wounding or shooting at 32 others, nearly all of them unarmed soldiers, in the worst mass murder at a military installation in American history.
One argument the military lawyers were expected to make, had they been permitted to proceed, was that a death sentence for Major Hasan would put soldiers’ lives at risk by giving Islamic extremists a new symbol to avenge and exploit.
Major Hasan, 42, has been representing himself for months, and has made few attempts since the trial started Aug. 6 to present a defense. His former Army lawyers — and his own statements and behavior in and out of court — have suggested he wants a death sentence. He has said he believes he will become a martyr if he dies by lethal injection, because he viewed the deploying troops he killed as enemies of Islam.
On Tuesday, after Major Hasan failed to present any evidence, call any witnesses or make a statement as part of his sentencing defense, his former lead Army lawyer, Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe, asked the judge to effectively allow his former defense team or another group of lawyers to make his case on his behalf. They submitted their motion over Major Hasan’s objections.
The odd role — to sit by his former client while prohibited from actually representing him, and to watch him purposefully inch closer to a death sentence — has posed an ethical dilemma for Colonel Poppe, 50, a lawyer from small-town Ohio with more than 30 years of military service who has been working on Major Hasan’s case since May 2010. He has argued in court that assisting Major Hasan in any capacity was helping him reach his goal of a death sentence, and that such an arrangement violated his and the two other former lawyers’ professional and ethical obligations. He asked the judge to limit their role, but the judge ordered them to remain as standby counsel.
"Fort Hood gunman 'will never be a martyr'," is AP coverage by Michael Graczyk and Nomaan Merchant. It's via the San Francisco Chronicle.
With his life on the line, Maj. Nidal Hasan has done nothing to dissuade jurors from giving him a death sentence. When his standby lawyers pleaded in vain to argue on his behalf, he described them as "overzealous."
Hasan presented no witnesses or evidence during the sentencing phase of his trial, which began after he was convicted last week of killing 13 people in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood.
He had one final chance Wednesday to give a closing argument before his case went to the jury, but he declined — continuing an absent defense that he has used since his trial began three weeks ago.
The Army psychiatrist's behavior has only stoked suspicion that his ultimate goal is martyrdom, in the form of a death sentence that would allow him to fulfill what prosecutors have described as a "jihad duty" under his Islamic faith.
Prosecutors want Hasan to join just five other U.S. service members currently on military death row. That would require a unanimous decision by the jury of 13 military officers, and prosecutors must prove an aggravating factor and present evidence to show the severity of Hasan's crimes.