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Hasan’s standby lawyers want out for morality reasons, judge rules ‘no’

Maj. Nidal Hasan trial
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Accused Fort Hood terrorist Maj. Nidal Hasan’s obvious death wish didn’t stop judge Col. Tara Osborn from ruling Thursday he can continue defending himself in his military murder trial and that his attorneys must remain on standby.

On Wednesday, the trial was halted and there was almost a mutiny when Hasan’s “standby” defense attorneys asked to either take over his case or be removed from the case saying Hasan wasn’t even trying to avoid conviction and a death sentence.

“[H]asan gave an opening argument that lasted less than two minutes and included an unambiguous admission that he “was the shooter” who killed 13 and injured 30 in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at the Texas Army base,” Fox News reported.

“Hasan’s court-appointed legal team is refusing to be part of a process in which Hasan seems determined to become a martyr, according to one former prosecutor experienced in terror cases,” the report said.

But Osborn ruled Hasan can continue to represent himself and that the attorneys must stay on the case.

“The court believes this is simply a matter of standby counsel disagreeing with how Maj. Hasan wishes to conduct his case,” the LA Times reported the judge ruled.

Lead defense attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe said he would appeal the judge’s ruling.

“We believe your order is causing us to violate our rules of professional conduct assisting Maj. Hasan in eliminating obstacles to the death penalty,” Poppe said, according to the Times.

According to the Times, the following courtroom exchange got testy:

Do you have anything in writing from your local bar or other state official saying it is unethical for you to perform the role of standby counsel” as outlined by this court, Osborn asked Poppe.

“You have asked that question,” he replied, agitated.

“What is the answer?” the judge replied, equally agitated.

“Your honor, you have received an answer — you’re not willing to accept the answer,” Poppe said, citing the Army law of professional conduct.

Poppe said the request wasn’t about protecting his law license or future career, but rather about doing something he found morally wrong.

For now, the trial is moving forward and is expected to last several months.

More from the LA Times.

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