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Houston decides to keep lawyer

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By Damon Lawrence

For the time being, attorney Michael McGovern will continue to represent Rocky Houston in his federal firearms case.

Houston previously sought to get rid of McGovern, claiming he had a conflict of interest and was a key witness in the case.

Houston also claimed he could no longer discuss trial strategies with McGovern and he’d be denied a fair trial if McGovern wasn’t replaced.

McGovern responded by filing a motion to withdraw as Houston’s court-appointed attorney.

U.S. Magistrate C. Clifford Shirley Jr. held a hearing on Monday to deal with the issues.

“Where are we, Mr. McGovern?” Shirley asked.

“Mr. Houston wants me to remain as his counsel, and I’m willing,” McGovern responded.

“Is that right, Mr. Houston?” Shirley asked.

“Yes, sir,” Houston responded.

Houston is charged with 14 counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

His trial is scheduled for Jan. 28.

“You understand the court is not likely to grant any more continuances,” Shirley told Houston.

Late last month, Shirley postponed a Dec. 3 trial date because Houston sought to get rid of McGovern.

Shirley told Houston that deciding to change lawyers at the last minute won’t be a good reason to postpone the Jan. 28 trial date.

“We’ll expect both sides to be ready to go forward at that time,” Shirley said.

Houston was convicted of felony evading arrest in Roane County Criminal Court in 2010.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Roane County Sheriff’s Office used a pole camera to conduct secret surveillance of his South of the River property last year. Houston was allegedly observed carrying weapons on multiple occasions.

He faces up to 140 years in prison if convicted on the federal charges.