Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Good morning again.

Nidal Hasan

The slow legal “suicide” of Nidal Hasan

Shellie Zimmerman is going to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with a 1 year probation recommendation from the prosecution.

Not surprising, given the acquittal of her husband, but this “deal” will do nothing to dispel suspicions that the acquittal was a prearranged outcome.

My comment: She committed perjury, the prosecution can prove it, and this is not even a slap on the wrist. Ridiculous outcome.

In other news today, the New York Times has a good article today on the ethical dilemma that Army lawyer, Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe, is suffering through as he is forced to helplessly watch his former client, Major Nidal Hasan, commit suicide in slow motion by insisting on representing himself, which he has a right to do, and then doing nothing except passively watch the proceedings inevitably end in a death sentence.

After the judge allowed Major Hasan to represent himself, she told his former Army lawyers to remain his standby counsel. They offer him procedural guidance in navigating the military court system, but cannot supply him with legal advice. They remain by his side in case Major Hasan or the judge seeks their return.

The odd role — to sit by his former client while prohibited from actually representing him, and to watch him purposefully inch closer to a death sentence — has posed an ethical dilemma for Colonel Poppe, 50, a lawyer from small-town Ohio with more than 30 years of military service who has been working on Major Hasan’s case since May 2010. He has argued in court that assisting Major Hasan in any capacity was helping him reach his goal of a death sentence, and that such an arrangement violated his and the two other former lawyers’ professional and ethical obligations. He asked the judge to limit their role, but the judge ordered them to remain as standby counsel.

I feel for him. I have a pretty good idea what he is feeling. It’s a waking nightmare from which you cannot escape, an awful situation to be forced to helplessly stand by and watch, especially when you know that you might be able to change the outcome, if only you could speak.

No matter what happens, he will never forget this and he might even retire and abandon the practice of law in horror and disgust much as I eventually did.

Just another day’s work in America’s criminal justice sewer.

Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.