FORT HOOD, Texas, Dec. 4, 2012
Citing the appearance of bias, the highest military appellate court yesterday ordered the removal of Army Col. Gregory Gross as trial judge in the court-martial of an Army psychiatrist accused in a November 2009 shooting spree at a deployment center here.
Maj. Nidal M. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which sits in Washington, D.C., said in its 10-page opinion that because of a variety of factors, a reasonable person “would harbor doubts about the military judge’s impartiality.” The court did not say that the trial judge was actually biased, officials noted, but instead ordered the removal for the appearance of bias. The court also set aside the six previous contempt convictions against Hasan, who has refused orders from Gross to shave his beard and conform with Army grooming standards in the courtroom, though it did not issue a ruling on whether Hasan has a right to wear his beard under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
A new trial judge will be detailed to the court-martial and will decide on the matter when the case goes back on the record in open court.