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Houston appeal critical to case

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Rocky still representing self on weapons charges

By Damon Lawrence

The U.S. government used a state conviction as a basis for filing firearms charges against Rocky Houston. The legal process has yet to run its course on that state conviction, however.
Rocky was found guilty in Roane County Criminal Court in 2010 for reckless endangerment and felony evading arrest.
He now faces 14 counts of being a convicted felon in possession of firearms in U.S. District Court.
Rocky appealed his state convictions with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.
Joanne Newsome, chief deputy clerk for the Knoxville office, said the appeal is pending.
According to court documents, Rocky requested that the case be remanded back to Roane County Criminal Court for a new trial.
It’s not unheard of for the Court of Criminal Appeals to grant him judicial relief.
Rocky and his older brother, Leon, faced first-degree murder charges for the 2006 deaths of Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Jones and his ride-along Mike Brown.
Leon’s first trial ended in a hung jury. He was acquitted during a second trial in November 2009.
When Rocky was tried in 2008, the jury found him not guilty on some charges. Other offenses were left blank on the verdict forms.
Judge James “Buddy” Scott dismissed the jury without declaring a mistrial and without attempting to clarify the unorthodox verdict forms.
The state wanted to retry Rocky, but the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Scott’s improper discharge of the jury amounted to an acquittal. 
The state charges that Rocky was convicted of stemmed from a 2004 police chase that ended with his pickup truck flipped on its top.
Lindsey B. Lander was appointed to represent Rocky in the case, but on the opening day of the trial, Lander was allowed to withdraw because Rocky threatened to file a lawsuit against him.
Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ordered Rocky to represent himself.
The jury found him guilty of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, and felony evading arrest on April 1, 2010.
He was found not guilty on four other charges.
Rocky sought to have a new trial, but his request was denied by Blackwood. He later appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Rocky appeared in U.S. District Court on Monday in the federal firearms case and insisted he’s not a convicted felon.
He also claimed that Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge D. Kelly Thomas could prove it.
“If I can get my witnesses in here, I win the case,” he said. Rocky was still representing himself on Monday.
U.S. Magistrate C. Clifford Shirley Jr. tried to convince Rocky to let the court appoint him an attorney, but Rocky said a court-appointed attorney wouldn’t subpoena the witnesses he wants.
“It’s a pretty rare occurrence for someone to subpoena a Supreme Court justice,” Shirley told him. “Just because you want to do something that’s completely improper doesn’t mean they have to do that.”
Rocky’s trial is tentatively set for March 26. He faces 10 years in prison on each count.
Shirley told Rocky he needed to get serious about hiring an attorney.
Rocky said he wants to, but claimed he needs to get back $75,000 from attorney Randy Rogers to do so.
Rocky said he’s been unable to get a letter to Rogers, the attorney who helped him on the murder charges, because he has been kept on lockdown by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
The U.S. Marshals agreed to fax the letter to Rogers for him.
“I feel like if I send it regular mail he’ll just throw it in the trash,” Rocky said.
Shirley told Rocky it’s a pipe dream to think he can get $75,000 from Rogers.
“It could take months, years down the road for you to get that resolved,” Shirley said. “In the meantime, your trial here will have come and gone.”
By the end of the hearing Rocky agreed to fill out the necessary paperwork and allow Shirley to appoint him elbow counsel.
“They’re just to assist you in representing yourself,” Shirley said. “That’s still not in your best interest because you’re still representing yourself.”
Shirley set another hearing in the case for Feb. 4.
Leon faces one count of possession of firearms while being an unlawful user of controlled substances. His federal trial is tentatively scheduled for March 25.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jennings indicated that it’s unlikely both trials will go on as currently scheduled.