Defense Lawyer Describes Meeting With Hasan

Retired Col. John P. Galligan, one of Maj. Nidal Hasan's defense lawyers, talks to Melissa Block about defending the suspected Fort Hood shooter. Galligan says he met briefly with Hasan at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, but hasn't gotten anything from the government yet pertaining to the case.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Im Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And Im Melissa Block.

Now, an interview with the attorney who has agreed to defend Major Nidal Hasan, the alleged gunman in last weeks Fort Hood rampage. John Galligan is a military man himself, a retired Army colonel, as well as a former military judge at Fort Hood. He was retained by Major Hasans family and recently met with his client in the intensive care unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. I asked Colonel Galligan to describe that meeting.

Colonel JOHN GALLIGAN (Attorney): Well, it was very brief. It was limited to the subject, to this representation. I took with me a military defense attorney who was also been detailed to his case as Major Chris Martin out of Fort Hood. And we both basically explained our respective roles, relationship as defense attorney and the additional that he has concerning our council.

He seemed to understand all of that fully, seemed satisfied with at least the two of us being the current defense team. And then because it appeared to me that he was very, very tired and obviously on medication or sedative. That pretty much concluded my meeting with him.

BLOCK: Colonel Galligan, can you explain why you agreed to represent Nidal Hasan and whether you have (unintelligible). Why do you feel conflicted about that?

Col. GALLIGAN: Well, let me tell you, Ive spent 30 years in the Army, you cant help when you leave that period of time serving and working with soldiers, its almost inevitable that you do like I did. As soon as I retired, the great bulk of the people that I represented were soldiers.

Im a firm believer in giving back. I believe soldiers give much to their country, and its important that we as attorneys, to the extent we can, give back to them by making sure any time they find themselves in the criminal justice arena, that we make sure they get a fair trial.

BLOCK: You served, I think, at Fort Hood, is that right, with the 1st Cavalry?

Col. GALLIGAN: I was at Fort Hood with the 1st Cavalry, both as a deputy SG(ph) and as a staff (unintelligible). I later then served at the end of my military career back at Fort Hood as a travel judge and then ultimately, as a chief circuit judge. I also know enough about the military justice system to be sufficiently concerned that in a high-profile case such as this, its imperative that we be ever vigilant to ensure that he gets a fair trial, and that ranges anywhere from ensuring that his rights against self-incrimination are respected all the way to ensuring that a proper form - that is, you know, one free from prejudice is available here and try his case.

So all of those are issues that Im starting to have to, you know, assess as they impact on this case. Can he get a fair trial at Fort Hood? I have my doubts. Ill just say that your listeners should join me in requesting that everybody make sure, as we go down this road that we call military justice, that we make sure that we stay on track so that Major Hasan gets a fair, impartial hearing and trial. Thats what we want, not just for him because its also what we want for each and every one of us.

BLOCK: I wonder, Colonel Galligan, given your own connections with Fort Hood, the time you served there, how hard it is for you to separate yourself from the immense tragedy that happened there and to represent you client, whos accused of killing so many people on that post?

Col. GALLIGAN: Well, Ive carefully considered that and made a personal decision that my contacts with Fort Hood are not going to impede my ability to confidently and aggressively represent Major Hasan. The moment I feel any uncertainty, either because of qualifications or because of conflict, I would be the first to raise those directly with my client and Id be the first to ask that they remove myself from further representation.

I would enter into this if I didnt feel that I could give 100 percent in accordance with the law on behalf of him and his defense. And I say that to every soldier that walks through my door, and Ive had some that Ive had to say, sorry, I cant do this because of a conflict. But Im very proud when I can defend a soldier.

BLOCK: Colonel Galligan, thank you very much.

Col. GALLIGAN: Thank you very much. And it was very nice talking to you.

BLOCK: Thats Colonel John Galligan. He has been hired to represent Major Nidal Hasan, whos accused in the shootings at Fort Hood.

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Fort Hood Suspect's Attorney Says Fair Trial In Doubt

The lawyer representing Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood, raised doubts Wednesday about whether his client can get a fair trial at the post.

"I also know enough about the military justice system to be sufficiently concerned that in a high-profile case such as this, it's imperative that we be ever-vigilant to ensure that he gets a fair trial," John Galligan said during an interview with NPR's Melissa Block.

"Can he get a fair trial at Fort Hood? I have my doubts," said Galligan, a defense attorney who retired after 30 years in the Army, most in the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Hasan, 39, is accused of opening fire last week at the crowded Army post in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding more than 40 others before being shot by two civilian police officers. Investigators are trying to establish a motive for the rampage.

Details have emerged that Hasan was a Muslim who was strongly opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His family has said the Army psychiatrist was trying to get out of being deployed to Afghanistan later this month.

Galligan said his own connections with Fort Hood, including time spent there as a judge, would not impede his ability to serve as Hasan's lawyer.

"The moment I feel any uncertainty, either because of qualifications or because of conflict, I would be the first to raise those directly with my client, and I'd be the first to ask that I remove myself from further representation," he said. "I wouldn't enter into this if I didn't feel that I could give 100 percent in accordance with the law on behalf of him and his defense. ... I'm very proud when I can defend a soldier."

Army Maj. Nidal Hasan i i

A portrait taken of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan upon entering the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Disaster and Military Psychiatry Fellowship program in 2007. Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via AP hide caption

itoggle caption Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via AP
Army Maj. Nidal Hasan

A portrait taken of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan upon entering the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Disaster and Military Psychiatry Fellowship program in 2007.

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via AP

Galligan said he recently met with Hasan, who remains hospitalized in stable condition at Fort Sam Houston's Brooke Army Medical Center near San Antonio.

"It was very brief. It was limited to the subject of his representation," Galligan said. He and the military lawyer also representing Hasan explained their roles and Hasan's rights pertaining to his representation.

Hasan "seemed to understand all of that fully, seemed satisfied with at least the two of us being the current defense team," Galligan said. "And then because it appeared to me that he was very, very tired and obviously on medication or sedatives, that pretty much concluded my meeting with him."

Meanwhile, Congress was preparing to hold hearings on the shootings as conflicting reports emerged about whether or not the accused gunman's contact with a radical Muslim cleric had been investigated.

Two government officials have said a joint terrorism task force overseen by the FBI was notified of communications between Hasan and a radical Yemeni imam identified as Anwar al-Awlaki. But a military official denied knowing about the contacts between the two, according to The Associated Press.

Awlaki's personal Web site contained encouragements for Muslims to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

From NPR and wire reports

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