Lawyers involved in the court-martial of the man accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, will shoulder incredible pressure from inside and outside the military to get it right, experts on military law say.
And they’ll have to do it while trying to find an unbiased jury and managing a complex and high-profile capital trial at the same time overlapping congressional investigations may be under way. Even under normal circumstances, a court-martial is a “real drain” on the military and needs to be handled expeditiously, said John O’Connor, a partner at Washington’s Steptoe & Johnson and a former U.S. Marine Corps prosecutor. For the lawyers, moving fast will also have a practical benefit: The military “transfers people all of the time, and if you wait a long time until trial, witnesses may be far flung,” O’Connor said.
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