- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By DAMON LAWRENCE
Brothers Rocky and Leon Houston were back in court Monday, each with separate cases pending before Judge Jeff Wicks in General Sessions Court.
Officers charged Rocky with assault after he allegedly spit on them during a scuffle in October 2008.
“Are you here representing yourself, Mr. Houston, or are you going to need an attorney?” Wicks asked.
“I’ll exercise my 6th Amendment right to have assistance of counsel, and we’re probably going to need a motion hearing to recuse you due to conflict of interest,” Rocky responded.
Wicks asked Rocky if he was going to hire his own attorney or ask the court to appoint him one.
“I may have to have one appointed, but I feel like there’s a conflict of you appointing me one if there’s a possibility that you’d be recusing yourself,” Rocky responded.
Wicks told Rocky he’d take the matter under advisement.
District Attorney General Russell Johnson said he thought Rocky’s argument was irrational.
Accusing officials of being in conflict is not new for Rocky. He accused everyone from the court reporter to his own lawyer of being in conflict during his murder case, which is now stayed pending a decision from the Court of Criminal Appeals.
The murder case stems from the May 11, 2006, shootout that took place outside of Leon’s home on Barnard Narrows Road. Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Jones and his ride-along passenger, Mike Brown, were killed in the gunfight.
Leon was acquitted of all charges in the deaths of the two men in November.
He is now a free man, but Rocky remains in custody.
The jury in Rocky’s December 2008 trial found him not guilty of first-degree premeditated murder for the death of Brown.
The jury also returned not-guilty verdicts on seven lesser included offenses, but former Houston judge James “Buddy” Scott ruled the verdicts on the lesser offenses did not count because the jury failed to follow proper instructions.
The state wants to retry Rocky, but he argues that would constitute double jeopardy, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.
The Court of Criminal Appeals heard arguments in the case in November.
Unlike his brother, who was escorted into the courthouse wearing an inmate jumpsuit with his wrists and ankles shackled, Leon was free to come and go as he pleased.
He faced misdemeanor charges of leaving a fire near woodland unattended and reckless burning.
Johnson said the Tennessee Division of Forestry wanted to be paid for the expenses it incurred for putting out the fire.
“All they’re interested in is reimbursement for the expenses they had in coming to put out the fire,” Johnson told Leon. “We would be willing to dismiss it on payment of restitution.”
“We didn’t ask them to come out,” argued Debbie Cofer, Leon’s sister.
“It got into other people’s property and so they had to come to keep it from burning other people’s property,” Johnson responded.
After an unsuccessful attempt Monday, Johnson was able to negotiate a settlement with Leon Tuesday. Johnson told Leon he could settle the case by paying half of the $1,138 in expenses.
The deal was helped by Leon’s attorney James Logan.
Logan also represented Leon during his murder case, which included a mistrial in July 2008 and the acquittal in November.