Over a week ago, the Hasan Defense Team requested the Commanding General at Fort Hood to reject the decision of a subordinate commander (Colonel Lamb) who had denied the Defense Request for a Mitigation Specialist. Additionally, the Defense Team requested an opportunity to meet with the General concerning this important matter. Given the fact that the US Army has signaled this case will be processed for potential capital referral, it is absolutely essential that the Defense be able to start developing mitigation evidence. Sadly, action has not yet been taken on the Defense Request. The delay is unwarranted and prejudicial.
As noted in earlier Posts, the Army’s position is misplaced – it has no rational basis in fact or law. Indeed, the Defense has provided the Commanding General with an affidavit prepared by Mr. Russell Stetler, National Mitigation Coordinator for the federal death penaltyprojects. In his affidavit, Mr. Stetler states that “mitigation specialists come from a variety of backgrounds – including anthropology, education, journalism, law, psychology, and social work – but their work is defined by their unique role as agents of capital defense counsel. Several outstanding mitigation specialists with national reputations in the field are also licensed to practice law, but when they are retained as mitigation specialists in an individual case they play that role and only that role in the case.” Mr. Stetler has also emphasized the need for prompt action on this important matter. In his words, “Obtaining the timely appointment of a mitigation specialist is essential to counsel’s efforts to provide Major Hasan with effective representation, and denying counsel these services risks committing an “error of constitutional magnitude” (citation omitted). Providing Major Hasan with effective representation, including the tools essential to capital defense, not only enforces the promise of the Sixth Amendment, but assures the court that it may be confident in the reliability of its proceedings.”
Against this background, prejudice stemming from the US Army’s dilatory stance is readily apparent. The US Army needs to act now and favorably for the Defense on this critical issue.
A copy of the pertinent Request for Defense Mitigation Specialist is included on the Motions and Legal Memo Page. The Defense Request presents a compelling argument because it is rooted in fairness and consistent with applicable law.