We continue our coverage of the trial of Major Nidal Hasan. You might recall that Major Hasan's trial for murder in connection to a shooting at Fort Hood has been delayed while the issue of whether Major Hasan should be forced to shave for his trial was appealed. The end result of the appeals was that the judge who ordered Major Hasan be shaved was removed from the case. Yesterday, Major Hasan appeared in front of his new judge for the first time. Let's see how that went.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, it did not go well for anyone who hoped the beard issue would further delay the trial. The paper reports that Major Hasan's beard is even "longer and thicker" than it was the last time he was in court.
The new judge, Colonel Tara Abbey Osborn, simply asked Major Hasan if he was wearing his beard by choice. Major Hasan replied that he was. The judge's response was, “I'm not going to hold that against you, but some people on the panel may hold that against you." I believe the panel the judge referred to is the same thing as a jury. The judge then asked Major Hasan's defense attorney to give the court proposed jury instructions about the beard.
The article quotes Geoffrey Corn, a retired Army lawyer who is now a professor at the South Texas College of Law. Professor Corn speculates that the judge decided that letting Major Hasan wear his beard, while pointing out the risk of doing so, would keep the case moving and be in the interest of justice. I hope Professor Corn is right. In either event, it is nice to see someone acting rationally in these irrational times.