Trial Date Set For Fort Hood Suspect, Attorney Takes Leave of Absence

    The suspect in the Fort Hood Shootings is set for trial following his arraignment, with proceedings beginning March 5, 2012.  Major Nidal Hasan did not enter a plea during his appearance.

    But as he prepares for trial, Hasan will have to do without his lead civil defense attorney, John Galligan.

    FOX News Radio's Jessica Rosenthal reports:

    Audio clip:

     

    Read Galligan's statement HERE:

    Today marks my leave of absence as a member of the Hasan Defense Team.

    I will not at this time detail the reasons prompting this development. I will continue to monitor this important case as it proceeds through the court-martial process.

    Suffice it to say, this case highlights why I remain dedicated to the criminal defense function.  Over the past year, my family and I have been vilified by many for defending Major Nidal Hasan.  That disparagement is misplaced.

    You will recall that an early President, John Adams, was subjected to similar scorn when he led the defense of British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre. President Adams reminded critics that he performed a vital role and served a noble function. As he wisely noted, we are not secure in our individual liberty and freedom if we do not maintain an abiding respect for the right of all defendants to fair proceedings. Indeed, John Adams' expressed sentiments about representing the Boston Massacre defendants are apropos to my situation. Paraphrasing him, The part I took in defense of procured me anxiety, and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or Witches ....

    I have consistently argued that Major Hasan has not been treated fairly. I maintain that belief. As such, I deeply regret that my presence on the Defense Team has been interrupted. However, Major Hasan fully understands that I stand ready and anxious to resume an active role.

    Fort Hood's Public Affairs Office released the following statement outlining Wednesday's arraignment:

    The arraignment for the case of United States vs. Maj. Nidal M. Hasan was held today at 2:30 p.m. in the Fort Hood courtroom.

    At the arraignment, Col. Gregory Gross, Fort Hood's chief circuit judge, discussed the rights held by the accused, such as his right to counsel. 

    Colonel Gross made an inquiry on the record regarding detailed military counsel and civilian counsel. Major Hasan indicated he is satisfied with detailed counsel and desires no specific military counsel. He has released his civilian counsel, Mr. J.P. Galligan.

    The judge explained Major Hasan's right to be tried before an officer panel, and Major Hasan elected the same.

    Colonel Gross explained that prosecution must prove a capitol count, an aggravating factor, and that the aggravating factor must outweigh mitigating factors. Each must be decided by a unanimous vote by the court martial panel. 

    Major Hasan, by counsel, waived reading of the charges and deferred entering a plea and further motions.

    Colonel Gross will issue an order setting deadlines for motions from both sides.

    The judge explained that the defense requested delay until March 5, 2012, is granted and that case will be docketed for that day.

    Major Hasan is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

    Galligan joined the case in the first week after the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood.  Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.  He faces the death penalty if convicted.