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Judge: Leon playing delay game

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By Damon Lawrence

Leon Houston’s latest effort to get rid of an attorney failed last week.
“The court is beginning to discern a pattern of the defendant seeking to delay his trial once it draws near,” U.S. Magistrate C. Clifford Shirley Jr. said in an order filed Sept. 6.
Two previous trial dates in Houston’s case have been postponed. For the moment, the Sept. 24 trial date is still set.
Houston is charged with possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance. His trial on a second charge of threatening to kill attorney James Logan will be held at a later date.
Houston plans to represent himself on the firearm charge, with attorney Charles I. Poole acting as his advisory counsel. Houston is represented by Poole on the murder-threat charge.
Houston filed motions in August asking the court to reappoint counsel because his bond with Poole was “irretrievably” broken. He claimed Poole is a witness in his case because he spoke with Logan, and Poole hasn’t allowed him access to evidence, law books or hearing transcripts. Houston also wanted Poole to file criminal charges against the prosecution.
At a hearing last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jennings objected, arguing that Houston wouldn’t be able to get along with any appointed attorney because the motions he wants filed are so outlandish.
Shirley agreed.
“The court finds that the ‘problems’ between the defendant and Mr. Poole lie mainly in the defendant’s displeasure over Mr. Poole’s refusal to take action that no attorney would be able to take on the defendant’s behalf,” Shirley wrote.
Shirley also determined that another attorney would “inevitably encounter the same issues that the defendant has raised with regard to Mr. Poole.”
“Either way, the trial of Count One remains set for Sept. 24, 2013,” Shirley said.