Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Military Capital Case Unlikely to Result in an Execution (Even in Texas)

On the fringes of Texas criminal law is the notorious case of Major Nidal Hasan, the Army medical officer and American Muslim that killed 13 people during a shooting rampage at Texas’ Fort Hood in 2009.

CNN reports HERE that the Convening Authority (the Army General that forwarded the charges to court-martial) has decided that this will be a capital case. That the death penalty would be on the table was thought by many to be a foregone conclusion. However, unlike Texas capital cases, the likelihood of the death sentence being executed is a longshot in the military system.

As reported by the Court-Martial Appellate blawg CAAFlog,

Under the current military death penalty system, which President Reagan promulgated in January 1984, there have been 52 known capital courts-martial resulting in 16 adjudged death sentences, for a 30.8% death sentencing rate.
Further, a survey of the 10 death sentences that have been adjudged in the military in past 37 years indicates that the reversal rate on appeal of death sentences in the modern military system is 80% (and none of the death sentences were reinstated when resentencing was authorized.)

The most shocking statistic, especially to Texans like me, is that there has not been a military execution under the modern system, ever. And it does not appear that one is imminent for the existing military death row inmates.

The death penalty may be an option for the Hasan jury and it may indeed be the sentence that is handed down, but if history is our guide, Hasan will spend his remaining days at Leavenworth and there will be no execution.