Fort Hood — The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals issued an opinion on October 18th upholding the trial judge's decision to order Maj. Nidal M. Hasan to appear in court clean shaven.
The ACCA ruled that Col. Gregory Gross, the trial judge, properly found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not provide Hasan the right to wear a beard while in uniform during his upcoming court martial.
Specifically, the ACCA upheld Gross's finding that Hasan did not prove his beard was an expression of a sincerely held religious belief. Additionally, the court went on to say that even if Hasan did wear the beard for a sincere religious reason, compelling government interests also justified Gross's order requiring Hasan to comply with Army grooming standards.
The ACCA also upheld previous contempt proceedings against Hasan, where he was fined $1,000 on six separate occasions for appearing in court out of uniform because of his beard.
Two ACCA judges wrote a partial dissent to the ACCA majority opinion, saying that the judge's order to require Hasan to appear in court clean shaven compromised his impartiality. The majority opinion, however, did not question Gross's impartiality.
Defense counsel for Hasan have indicated they plan on appealing today's decision, which is linked here, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
The accused is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.