Military judge asserts right to order Fort Hood shooting suspect forcibly shaved before trial

FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge has the authority to order an Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage to be forcibly shaved before his murder trial, military attorneys told an appeals court Wednesday.

The attorneys, in a document filed on behalf of Col. Gregory Gross, contend that forcibly shaving Maj. Nidal Hasan would not violate the American-born Muslim’s religious freedoms and said it is similar to “and no more invasive than” a judge’s right to restrain a defendant who is disruptive during a court-martial.

“Forced shaving is not a novel concept in the military,” military attorneys said in the judge’s response filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. They cited no specific cases of other soldiers being forcibly shaved. “Army regulations expressly authorize nonconsensual haircutting and face-shaving for recalcitrant incarcerated soldiers. … If the judge has authority to bind and gag a disruptive accused (soldier), then certainly he has authority to forcibly shave (Hasan).”  The trial is expected to last more than two months at Fort Hood, about 125 miles southwest of Fort Worth.