As they say, the Army takes care of its own . . . .
For beginners, the lead Army prosecutor, Colonel Mike Mulligan has been selected to serve as the next Staff Judge Advocate for the Commander, III Corps and Fort Hood. That’s right – this means he will succeed Colonel Stu Risch who now provides legal advice to the III Corps and Fort Hood General Court-Martial Convening Authority, Lieutenant General Campbell. Risch and Campbell recommended and decided respectively to handle the case by way of a capital referral, i.e. the prospective jury can consider the death penalty as an authorized sentence in the case. This projected assignment will present some immediate issues. For example, Colonel Mulligan will be precluded from providing the General Court-Martial Convening Authority with post trial legal advice in the case. Rule for Court-Martial 1106, Manual for Courts-Martial, provides:
No person who has acted as member, military judge, trial counsel, assistant trial counsel, defense counsel, associate or assistant defense counsel, or investigating officer in any case may later as as a staff judge advocate orlegal officer to any reviewing or convening authority in the same case.
LTC(P) Steve Henricks also landed a top job – he was selected to serve as the Staff Judge Advocate for the10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.
And fnally, Colonel Risch, the current Staff Judge Advocate for at III Corps and Fort Hood, will head off to serve as the Executive Officer, Office of The Judge Advocate General, in the Pentagon.
Unclear is how these announced assignments might impact on the trial date, in the event the Defense determines a continuance is necessary. Change of duty assignments typically occur during the early summer months – and, of course, this would be problematic in the event of any continuation of the trial now docketed for early March. To date, only a few pretrial motions have been formally litigated and even with respect to those, there has been no announced decision by the military judge. Given the substantial number of pretrial issues likely to be raised and not yet litigated, a Defense request for continuance is distinctly possible. JAGC assignments, even if they involve plum positions, should not be a factor in determining Major Hasan’s pretrial due process rights.