How can a defense attorney tell when a murder trial has started to go badly for their side?  One good indication is having the client represent himself and tell the jury in his opening statement, “The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.”

That takes all of the mystery out of a trial, doesn’t it?  It’s no mystery now that Nidal Hasan’s attorney would like to bail out of his client’s attempt to get executed for the Fort Hood shootings by the most expeditious manner possible, but it may not be that easy:

The standby attorney for the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting has told a military judge that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan appears intent on receiving a death sentence.

Lt. Col. Kris Poppe (PAHP’-ee) said Wednesday at Hasan’s trial that he is willing to step in and be Hasan’s attorney. But if Hasan continues to work toward being executed, Poppe asked that his responsibilities be minimized.

Hasan then told the judge he objected, saying: “That’s a twist of the facts.”

The judge has decided to take the whole matter under advisement, but she sounded skeptical:

Poppe told the court that he and Hasan’s two other attorneys, Lt. Col. Christopher Martin and Maj. Joseph Marcee, “do not want to be forced to help him get to the death penalty.” Poppe called Hasan’s trial performance “repugnant.”

Poppe said that he disagreed with decisions Hasan made during jury selection, but the judge dismissed that, saying, “At first blush, that is just a difference in strategy.” The judge pressed lawyers to clarify exactly what they wanted and described their motion as being “at war within itself.” …

The judge said she would allow Hasan to articulate his objections but in a private, ex-parte hearing behind closed doors. Hasan objected to the proceeding, but the judge still closed court to hear arguments on the motion.

Court later recessed until Thursday morning with no decision made on the motion.

Generally speaking, courts are reluctant to allow attorneys to sever themselves from clients in the middle of a trial.  That’s especially true for indigent clients, and one would imagine that military courts would be even less amenable to such requests.  Obviously, Hasan isn’t the ideal client, and it looks clear that he wants to use the trial not to defend himself but to wage a rhetorical battle with the United States and its war on terrorism. The court ruled earlier that Hasan couldn’t use a defense theory that he had a right to wage war against enemies of Islam engaged in an illegal war, mainly because it’s irrelevant to the charges, but that’s apparently what Hasan wants to argue anyway, regardless of who his counsel is.

Changing attorneys now would needlessly delay the trial while a replacement came up to speed, so don’t expect Judge Osborn to look favorably on the request.  It should be over soon enough anyway.

Meanwhile, don’t miss the Boss Emeritus’ primer on the case, a trial about which the court-obsessed media seems oddly diffident:

Finally. Four years after Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, and perpetrated the bloodiest massacre ever on an American military base, the self-confessed jihadist’s court martial proceedings began this week. Have you forgotten?

Americans obsessed over the O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias trials. Gun-control lobbyists turned Newtown, Aurora and Tucson into national awareness-raising, fundraising and legislation-promoting campaigns. But where are the celebrity lobbyists and high-profile advocates for the victims of bloodthirsty Muslim vigilante Nidal Hasan?

The White House, which downplayed the terrorist mass murder as “workplace violence,” exacerbated national apathy for his evil acts. Our soldiers deserve better. Here are three facts you’ve probably forgotten — or never knew — about the Fort Hood terror spree.

Be sure to read it all.