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Twenty years ago. Maybe even longer.
That’s how long Knoxville attorney John Eldridge said it’s been since he represented Leon Houston in a civil matter.
“I didn’t know that,” U.S. Magistrate C. Clifford Shirley Jr. said. “I apologize.”
Shirley had asked Eldridge to come to the federal courthouse in Knoxville on Wednesday with the intention of appointing him to represent Leon Houston’s brother, Rocky, who faces 14 counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
After months of insisting he wanted to represent himself, Rocky Houston filed a motion last week requesting the appointment of counsel. Wednesday’s hearing was scheduled to address that issue.
“Are you asking me to appoint you an attorney?” Shirley asked.
“I feel like there would be a conflict with you appointing me an attorney,” Rocky responded.
“I’m the person that appoints counsel,” Shirley said.
The hearing abruptly ended after Eldridge informed Shirley of his history with Leon Houston.
“We’ll terminate the hearing, and I’ll get someone else over here,” Shirley said.
Eldridge told Shirley he didn’t think his history with Leon Houston created a conflict.
Rocky Houston disagreed.
“You’re still Clifford Leon Houston’s attorney of record until you pass away or he passes away,” he told Eldridge before the hearing started.
Rocky Houston’s trial is scheduled to start on July 16. He faces up to 140 years in prison if convicted.
Leon Houston also has criminal charges pending in federal court. He faces one count of possessing firearms while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance and one count of using a telephone to threaten to kill attorney James Logan.
Eldridge represented Jennifer Hyatte in her first-degree murder case that ended with a guilty plea in 2007. Hyatte shot and killed corrections officer Wayne “Cotton” Morgan in the Roane County Courthouse parking lot in 2005 to help her husband escape state custody.