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Defense Lawyer Describes Meeting With Hasan


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


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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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