Judge Says Public Defender Must Attend Petro Trial
KANSAS CITY - A U.S. district judge is requiring a federal public defender to attend a securities fraud trial that could last up to four weeks, even though his former client has decided to represent himself.
Isreal Owen Hawkins, of Kansas City, Kan., and four others are accused of selling unregistered stocks in Petro America Corp. two years after Missouri regulators ordered them to stop. Prosecutors say the defendants bilked investors out of more than $7 million.
Hawkins sought to defend himself because he believed his attorney's caseload was too big for him to concentrate on the Petro case.
Judge Brian Wimes on Wednesday ruled public defender Stephen Moss would serve as standby counsel, meaning he must be in the courtroom every day even if he doesn't take part in the trial.
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