Gag Me, Gag Me Not

John P. Galligan, a former Colonel in the United States Army, has taken on the task of defending the Fort Hood Shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan.  It’s a capital prosecution against a widely vilified defendant.  Who better than the former Chief Circuit Judge, 3rd Judicial Circuit, Fort Hood, Texas to stand beside the defendant. 

For the younger criminal defense lawyers out there, Galligan’s representation of Hasan reflects the best of our profession.  It’s not about his personal definition of justice, but about his duty to his client.  And this duty led him to a place where few would go: Galliigan has started a blawg, called Fort Hood Attorney, in the face of a gag order against him, and only him.  Galligan explains:


Finally responding to a request for disclosure of evidence that had been filed in early December, the US Army agreed to provide Defense Counsel with the type of evidence that is routinely made available in other cases.    The release of information, however, is subject a “gag order” issued by the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority, Colonel Morgan M. Lamb, which prohibits the Defense from inadvertently or purposefully  ”divulging, publishing, or relealing, either by word or conduct” the belatedly disclosed information.   Needless to say, Army prosecutors have had access to this same information for the past several months.  The belated disclosure to the Defense and the accompanying “gag order” is evidence that the pretrial discovery process is not being conducted on an even playing field.
It’s unlikely that many will feel particularly sympathetic to Hasan, and it’s unclear whether there is any reason why they should.  But that changes nothing for John Galligan.  He’s got a job to do, and he clearly means to do it. 

Whether the content of the blawg violates the gag order, and whether the gag order is sustainable, are matters beyond the information available.  What is available is the fact that Galligan, staring the gag order in the face, chose not meekly acquiesce to his client’s detriment.  He didn’t post a question on a listserv to seek support and approval from others.  He didn’t lay down.  By creating this blawg, John Galligan made clear that his duty is to zealously represent his client, and that the villification of Hasan in the media requires some degree ot leveling the playing field, whether the Army agrees or not. 

John Galligan is unapologetic for being Nidal Hasan’s defense lawyer, and is clearly willing to face the consequences for doing his job well.  It’s easy to say that his fortitude is inspirational, when you read about Galligan from the safety and comfort of an office chair.  But can you take it with you into the courtroom and, the next time a judge or prosecutor tries to push you into dividing your loyalty between your client and your personal safety, stand up and show the judge that you have the guts that John Galligan has?

H/T ABA Journal

14 thoughts on “Gag Me, Gag Me Not

  1. Windypundit

    Since no one else has commented, I’ve hear from a source I cannot remember (yes, I know this is weak) that there’s a kind of loophole when a civilian lawyer represents a soldier in a military court, in that the lawyer is not himself subject to the UCMJ from which the judge receives his authority, so the judge is somewhat limited in his ability to retaliate.

  2. SHG

    That’s a good point, and I don’t know enough about Military Justice to add anything.  Perhaps Galligan will let us know.

  3. Peter E. Brownback III

    The case has not yet been referred to trial, so there is no military judge in the case.

    The ability of the SPCMA to enforce the order would depend upon the views of the US Attorney.

  4. Peter Duveen

    I’m wondering if it is worth comparing Galligan to Lynne Stewart. Of course there are differences, but Stewart felt she was representing her client (Omar Abdel Rahman) vigorously by defying the Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) and helping her client communicate with the outside world. The Second Circuit, in Stewart’s appeal, said if she believed the SAMs to have been unconstitutional, Stewart should have tried to get a court order to invalidate them. That reasoning, applied to Galligan, would mean he could be in trouble. Maybe Galligan should read the Second Circuit decision, not that it has anything to do with a decision of conscience.
    While the government contended that the information from Rahman that Stewart included in a press release, and her clarification of the same, could have led to a terrorist act, I feel that that could only have been true if Stewart had been using reverse psychology. The heart of the government’s case was based on pure speculation–that Rahman’s message would have resulted in violence. I say this because the immediate reaction of some to the above will be that Stewart tried to deliberately provoke a terrorist act in the process of violating the SAMs, while Galligan’s violation does not share the same character.

  5. SHG

    While the two situations aren’t comparable, and Galligans refusal to allow his client to be denied a fair trial without a fight isn’t a crime, you might be interesting in seeing some of the thigs I’ve written here about Lynne, who is a friend of mine.

  6. jmv

    I am aware of Mr. Galligan’s justification for defending his client. I find it funny that there are actually people out there that find his actions to be honorable and noble. To all of those that support and applaud Mr. Galligan, would you feel the same way if it was one of your family members that was cowardly gunned down by Hasan? Is there any doubt in your mind that Hasan was the one the pulled the trigger over and over again? Maybe if Mr. Galligan had ever served in a combat zone in his brilliant military career like the majority of todays Army, that he would feel less compelled to defend the murderer of those that have. As a member of the U.S. military and as an officer, I believe that Mr. Galligan is not a hero but instead a disgrace to the military. Again to those that defend Hasan, please help me understand. How can you defend a man who clearly killed those that volunteered to defend you? Those killed were going through a pre deployment process so that they could go overseas into a combat zone in order to keep the country that they love safe. This is the thanks that we give them? We applaud a power hungry, media motivated, high profile lawyer for defending the killer on a pro-bono basis? Some of you will keep falling back on the “Everyone deserves a fair trial” logic. Please ask yourselves this one more time, if it was my son/daughter, father/mother, grandson/granddaughter that was murdered, would I still be applauding Mr.Galligan for his noble efforts?

  7. SHG

    Absolutely.  With your claim of being an officer in the fireld, how can the military allow you to be responsible for the lives of others when you allow your emotions to overcome your reason?  If you aren’t fighting for America and the Constitution, what are you doing in the military? 

  8. jmv

    I find it hard to believe that you would still take that stance if it was a member of your family that was killed. If what you say is true though, then you are clearly a bigger man than me. I’m pretty sure though that the signers of the Constitution did not intend for it to protect terrorists. I’m also pretty sure that the signers of the Constitution would be sickened to know that people like yourself use and twist the Constitution to justify their money/power motivated decisions.

  9. SHG

    So you’re fighting for the Constitution that only applies to people we like?  I sure hope you’re not doing so with my American flag on your shoulder. My flag stands for a Constitution that applies to the good and bad alike.  Not everybody is man enough to deserve the American Constitution.

  10. jmv

    You really are a piece of work. I simply stated that the Constition was not designed with the purpose of protecting terrorists in mind; do not twist words. I wear my flag proudly and with honor which is something that I think you know little about. What have you done for this great country? My guess would be seek fame and fortune.

  11. SHG

    Hasan was a Colonel in the United States Army. Not even a close call as to whether he’s deserving of constitutional protection.  And as for me, it’s all fame and fortune responding to you.  If you want to know about honor, then honor your Constitution instead of twisting it to suit who you think is deserving.

  12. jmv

    Lets get the facts straight my friend. I know you like to twist things. Hasan was a Major in the Army not a Colonel. John Galligan is a retired Colonel. I’m done wasting my time on you. You lack the backbone to understand anything I say. You and Galligan should start a support group for Hasan. You can call it fame and constitutional cowardice united.

  13. SHG

    Understanding you involves no backbone.  Unfortunately, it also involves no brain.  And with that, the anonymous tough officer runs away yelling coward over his shoulder.  I would be proud to stand with Galligan.  You have yet to convince me that you have any notion of honor or country.

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