The soldier on trial for the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood is continuing to represent himself after his standby attorneys claimed that he was trying to get the death sentence for himself.
The judge refused the attorneys’ request to be either removed from the case or be allowed to take over, saying that the lawyers simply did not agree with Maj. Nidal Hasan’s defense strategy. But they insisted, and said that they would file an appeal with a higher court.
The lawyers face an untenable conundrum in having a client refuse to follow their advice. The importance of trust and confidence as well as cooperation cannot be overstated as they are critical to the attorney-client relationship. The judge also has to struggle with guaranteeing the defendant is afforded the constitutional safeguards including the right to due process, even when the defendant refuses assistance and clearly inhibits the opportunity for a fair trial.
COMENTARY BY SAM SPITAL, SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER