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Do you agree? Fort Hood shooting suspect must shave or be shaved, judge rules



This news story was published on September 7, 2012.
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Nidal Hasan

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times –

A military judge in Texas ruled Thursday that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage, must be clean-shaven before his court martial, else he will be forcibly shaved.

Army regulations ban beards, but Hasan, 41, who is still receiving military pay and benefits, objected on religious grounds, arguing that as a Muslim it would be a sin for him to shave. He appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which last week ruled that Hasan’s appeal was premature because the military judge handling his case had not issued a definitive order. The court sent the case back to that judge.

Col. Gregory Gross, the military judge at Fort Hood, issued his order Thursday after a hearing to determine whether a federal religious freedom law applied to Hasan’s case. Soldiers may be granted permission to grow beards for religious reasons, and six soldiers have been allowed to do so: a rabbi, two Muslim doctors and three Sikhs, according to Army records.

But Gross ruled that the defense hadn’t proved that Hasan grew a beard for sincere religious reasons, a Fort Hood spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.

The order will probably trigger another delay in Hasan’s trial because his attorneys are expected to appeal to the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, according to Fort Hood spokesman Tyler Broadway. If they fail there, they could continue to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gross has repeatedly found Hasan in contempt of court for appearing with a full beard at his last six pretrial hearings, fining him $1,000 at each hearing and sending him to watch the hearings from a nearby trailer via closed-circuit television.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in connection with the November 2009 attack at the base in Central Texas, among the largest in the country.

His court martial had been slated to start last month, but has been delayed as he fights to keep his beard.

Hasan did not speak in his own defense Thursday, Broadway said. Last week, Hasan told the judge that he grew a beard because his Muslim faith requires it, not out of disrespect.

Army correctional facilities have forcibly shaved prisoners six times since 2005, most recently in June 2011. That case involved a prisoner at the Northwestern Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., according to Army records.

The Army has specific guidelines on forced shaving, which Broadway supplied to the Times. According to the regulations, if Hasan is required to be forcibly shaved, a licensed barber is to be used if possible, and a group of five military police officers may be called upon to restrain the inmate “with the reasonable force necessary.”

A medical professional is to remain on hand in case of injuries. The shaving must be done with electric clippers and be videotaped, according to Army rules.

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23 Responses to Do you agree? Fort Hood shooting suspect must shave or be shaved, judge rules

  1. Mason City Bystander Reply Report comment

    September 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    i think it is crazy that they are worried about a beard after all the murder (premeditated or otherwise) charges pending. i say pull each one out with tweezers. take his benefits and pay away, scrub him down with oil then electrocute him… but again– opinion.

  2. Bobby G Reply Report comment

    September 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I got a lighter.

  3. Buzz Crumcutter Reply Report comment

    September 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    If he is found guilty, they should just fry or blast his worthless ass and get it over with already. In the mean time, he is an officer in the US Army and is bound by their rules as he well knows, so he should be clean shaven.

  4. Kunstler's Ghost Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    In Fraternal Order of Police Newark Lodge v. City of Newark, 170 F.3d 359 (3d Cir. 1999), an opinion authored by then-Judge, now-Justice Samuel Alito, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals considered a police policy that prohibited officers from wearing beards but offered exemptions to two categories: (1) officers who had medical reasons for wearing a beard; and (2) officers who were undercover. Two Muslim officers requested an exemption from the policy for religious reasons, but were denied. The City’s reason for the policy was to promote uniform appearance among its officers. The exception for undercover officers did not harm the purpose of the policy—as undercover officers are, by nature, out of uniform—and accordingly would not have resulted in imposition of heightened scrutiny. However, the exemption for medical reasons did undermine that policy—it applied to uniformed officers who would be recognized as officers, and rendered their appearance non-uniform to the extent of their beards. The court in Newark emphasized that the rule and its exception implied a value judgment that medical needs were less important than religious needs, and that it was this implicit value judgment that the Free Exercise Clause prohibits. Thus, the policy as it was applied to the Muslim officers was subject to heightened scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause and found to be unconstitutional.

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      September 8, 2012 at 6:54 am

      While I agree with that opinion as it applies to civilian life, it is rare when such a thing transfers over to the military.

      We recently saw for example, that the Executive branch (through certification of Congressional action) altered military rules by repealing don’t ask, don’t tell. We know that if such a rule was in place in the civilian world, there is no question it’s application would have been very short, and no court in the U.S. could allow it.

      Such latitude however is given to the military by Congress, for reasons of discipline, the preservation of good order, and to support it’s mission. This separation has served our nation quite well, and any changes are not taken at a whim.

      And it is that separation that civilians largely do not fathom.

  5. DaBearz Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Dry shave him from head to toe

  6. Gma Jean Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Let him keep it. It’s not hurting anyone.

    • Not Surprised Reply Report comment

      September 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

      You don’t get how the law and regulations apply do you?

      • Gma Jean Reply Report comment

        September 7, 2012 at 10:42 am

        Its a beard. What’s the problem? Might as well start cutting off a foot too while you’re at it.

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      September 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      GmaJean, this defendant is not in a civilian court. It is a Military trial, and Military rules apply. Yet, just like civilian life, one must follow the rules.

      But I suppose if you had read and comprehended the above article, you would have already known that.

      • Gma Jean Reply Report comment

        September 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

        I read it dummy, I just thing it’s stupid. Military isn’t anymore special then anyone else.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        September 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        HAHAHA name calling when you are wrong. Very mature.

      • My Voice Reply Report comment

        September 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm

        You certainly could have refrained from calling Observer a dummy. His post was NOT out of line. Of course I don’t expect much more out of you with your proven track record with loser criminals like those two winners you have for grandsons and the other MC’s finest you seem to support with your second chance retoric.

      • My Voice Reply Report comment

        September 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm

        Excuse me…RHETORIC.

      • Observer Reply Report comment

        September 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

        “Military isn’t anymore special then anyone else.”

        The Military has it’s own code of justice, governing those in service. And since this is a court martial, the rules governing is the Military Code of Justice.

        No one forces anyone to join the service, but once you are in, you sign that you will follow the rules, and orders to the letter. No and’s if’s or buts. You fail to follow orders, you seal your own fate.

        How come a stupid person like myself knows this off the top of my head, and you do not GmaJean?

    • Katie Reply Report comment

      September 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      We all already know that you and your ilk have no respect for law and order of any sort.

  7. retired military Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 9:52 am

    He is still in the military and should be clean shaven then lined up a shot. Better yet do not shave him a take him to GITMO and shot him in front of all his buddies!!!!!

  8. TheRealFred Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Funny, he shaved for years before now. Burn it off.

  9. Bobby G Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I’m surprised Obama hasn’t bailed him out.

  10. LVS Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Shave him and then shoot him.

  11. Observer Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 6:34 am

    “But Gross ruled that the defense hadn’t proved that Hasan grew a beard for sincere religious reasons….”

    There is where the burden of proof lies. This military judge has done his homework as his ruling reflects guidelines of Supreme Court decisions.

    Warm up the clippers, and oil them good!

  12. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 6:24 am

    SHAVE

  13. fergie Reply Report comment

    September 7, 2012 at 12:50 am

    They should shave his entire body.