Gag Me, Gag Me Not: Simple Justice…. A New York Criminal Defense Blog

Gag Me, Gag Me Not: Simple Justice…. A New York Criminal Defense Blog

Gag Me, Gag Me Not

Posted by SHG at 3/2/2010 1:48 PM
John P. Galligan, a former Colonel in the United States Army, has taken on the task of defending the Fort Hood Shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan.  It’s a capital prosecution against a widely vilified defendant.  Who better than the former Chief Circuit Judge, 3rd Judicial Circuit, Fort Hood, Texas to stand beside the defendant. 

For the younger criminal defense lawyers out there, Galligan’s representation of Hasan reflects the best of our profession.  It’s not about his personal definition of justice, but about his duty to his client.  And this duty led him to a place where few would go: Galliigan has started a blawg, called Fort Hood Attorney, in the face of a gag order against him, and only him.  Galligan explains:

Finally responding to a request for disclosure of evidence that had been filed in early December, the US Army agreed to provide Defense Counsel with the type of evidence that is routinely made available in other cases.    The release of information, however, is subject a “gag order” issued by the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority, Colonel Morgan M. Lamb, which prohibits the Defense from inadvertently or purposefully  ”divulging, publishing, or relealing, either by word or conduct” the belatedly disclosed information.   Needless to say, Army prosecutors have had access to this same information for the past several months.  The belated disclosure to the Defense and the accompanying “gag order” is evidence that the pretrial discovery process is not being conducted on an even playing field.

It’s unlikely that many will feel particularly sympathetic to Hasan, and it’s unclear whether there is any reason why they should.  But that changes nothing for John Galligan.  He’s got a job to do, and he clearly means to do it. 

Whether the content of the blawg violates the gag order, and whether the gag order is sustainable, are matters beyond the information available.  What is available is the fact that Galligan, staring the gag order in the face, chose not meekly acquiesce to his client’s detriment.  He didn’t post a question on a listserv to seek support and approval from others.  He didn’t lay down.  By creating this blawg, John Galligan made clear that his duty is to zealously represent his client, and that the villification of Hasan in the media requires some degree ot leveling the playing field, whether the Army agrees or not. 

John Galligan is unapologetic for being Nidal Hasan’s defense lawyer, and is clearly willing to face the consequences for doing his job well.  It’s easy to say that his fortitude is inspirational, when you read about Galligan from the safety and comfort of an office chair.  But can you take it with you into the courtroom and, the next time a judge or prosecutor tries to push you into dividing your loyalty between your client and your personal safety, stand up and show the judge that you have the guts that John Galligan has?