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The Brief: June 2, 2010

The Fort Hood shooter made his first courtroom appearance Tuesday, but a trial, the military court decided, won't happen until October.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Sitting quietly in a wheelchair and dressed in a camouflage uniform denoting his military history, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan — the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in November — made his first courtroom appearance Tuesday, winning a four-month trial delay.

Col. James Pohl, overseeing the military court's proceedings, ruled in favor of Hasan's defense team, which argued that it lacked crucial documents related to the case, including a government-ordered inquiry and a ballistics report, and needed more time to review newly acquired material.

The prosecution, led by Col. Michael Mulligan, opposed the ruling, contending that the defense had sufficient material to proceed. The defense, the San Antonio Express-News reports, applauded the decision but slammed what it considered theatrical security precautions — body shackles, bomb-sniffing dogs, ID checks — taken in the courtroom against Hasan, who lost the use of his legs after Fort Hood police officers shot him during the massacre. "It's all show," said retired Army Col. John P. Galligan, Hasan's lead attorney, according to the Express-News. "I told you it would look like D-Day here."

The new hearing, which will still only determine whether the case goes to trial, is scheduled for Oct. 4. Pohl has said he will call each of the 32 wounded victims to the stand.

CULLED:

  • The House Committee on Redistricting and the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence will meet today to discuss recent developments in state congressional redistricting. As the Tribune's Ben Philpott reports, legislators expect West Texas to lose seats and seniority, reflecting population shifts toward more metropolitan areas within the last 10 years. And in these shifts, Philpott reports, many see openings for Hispanics, whose political clout stands to increase significantly.
  • As the scuffle between the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Texas intensifies, you might expect the Sierra Club, that bastion of grassroots environmentalism, to be siding with the EPA, which has recently chided the state for not meeting Clean Air Act standards. But the organization, according to The Dallas Morning News, is instead mulling legal action against the agency, which it alleges isn't even meeting those standards itself. (Also, watch for Gov. Rick Perry to speak today on "EPA overreach.")
  • A water main burst in Dallas County government offices Tuesday, shutting down computer systems and leaving city employees stuck in a morass of underwater red tape. And to add a little insult to injury: They'd been warned about such a computer disaster two years ago.

"Because of a scare with one crazy guy with a gun, the only way to get quick access to the Capitol will be to carry a gun." — Brad Shields, one of many lobbyists who plans to acquire a concealed-handgun license solely for the purpose of bypassing Capitol security checkpoints

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