Back in October, we did a post on how Nidal Hasan, the man charged with killing thirteen people and wounding more than two dozen more in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, had his trial indefinitely delayed by not agreeing to shave his beard. That delay tactic may not work much longer.
The New York Times reports that the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has ordered the removal of the judge who ordered Major Hasan to be forcibly shaved before the start of his trial. The Times report says that the appeals court wrote that military commanders, as opposed to military judges, were responsible for ensuring that members of the military meet grooming standards. The court also noted that there was insufficient evidence to show that Major Hasan's beard was interfering with the trial, as opposed to simply irritating the presiding judge.
The Times story also brings up a fact that I have not seen in the media before. The same judge who ordered Major Nasan to forcibly shaved also accused Major Hasan of smearing feces on the floor of a restroom. Apparently the substance was mud. The story is not clear on why the judge thought the mud was feces or why the judge thought Major Nasan had done the smearing.
The court did not rule on whether the order to forcibly shave Major Hasan would have violated his religious liberty. Instead the court left that issue to the (as yet unassigned) new judge. It will be interesting to see if the next judge makes some sort of factual record as to how Major Hasan's beard is interfering with his trial. I suspect that the victims of the Fort Hood shooting would prefer that the next judge recognize delay tactics when he or she sees them.