Lind, a registered Democrat, according to voting records, has been a military judge since 2004. Her only previous brush with public attention came in 2010, when she presided over the case of Col. Terrence Lakin.
Lakin, an Army flight surgeon who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he believed “birther” conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the United States, was sentenced to six months in military prison.
According to friends, Lind prefers to keep a low profile and doesn’t read newspaper or online reports about herself.
Schenck, who met Lind in 1999 when they shared an office in the criminal law division at JAG’s Rosslyn headquarters, described her as someone who “reads criminal law for fun.” Lind has continued to teach a summer course at George Washington University during the Manning trial.
“There’s no down time with Denise Lind. She’s intense; she’s really intense,” said Schenck, describing her friend as a keen skier and someone who runs five miles every day.
“If she doesn’t run, she’s, like, totally wired,” she added.
Under the military justice system, Manning could have elected to be tried by a panel of officers and enlisted personnel. Instead, he decided to be tried by a single judge.
Lind cannot have failed to notice some of the intense scrutiny she is under and the political attention the case has attracted. She reacted angrily when a covert recording of Manning’s testimony was posted on the Internet, and activists wearing black T-shirts with the slogan “Truth” have been in a Fort Meade, Md., courtroom every day.
Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said it has been “disappointing to see that almost every ruling, whether they’re major or minor, seems to go against the defense.” Other activists highlighted Lind’s rulings on Manning’s right to a speedy trial — the defendant spent three years in pretrial confinement, but the judge found the delays had been “reasonable.”
Schenck said Lind has already been informed that she will take up a new position, as a judge on the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, when the Manning trial ends. And she said Lind will not be swayed by the politics of the case.
“She’s oblivious to the media,” Schenck said. “She’s not afraid to do the right thing. If the guy was not guilty, she would acquit him.”