Prosecution wants Michael Registe's lawyer removed from case - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Prosecution wants Michael Registe's lawyer removed from case

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Two weeks after being brought back to the U.S. to answer to murder charges, Michael Registe's case is now being heard by a Columbus judge.

Registe was not in the courtroom for his hearing Friday, after Judge Doug Pullen allowed him to waive formal arraignment.

Most of the talk, though, focused on whether Registe's attorney, Stacey Jackson, should even be representing him.

Prosecutors say Jackson's handling of the case creates a conflict of interest.

They cite his empoyment in the district attorney's office at the time of the 2007 murders, and the fact that he worked on the case before he left in July of 2008.

"Although I was a senior district attorney, my hands weren't placed on all cases in the division. I was not involved in the investigation or the indictment, did not advise any officers or the district attorney on how to indict or what to charge him with," said Jackson who talked to News Leader Nine after the court hearing.

Jackson does admit that he had conversations with a U.S. Marshall trying to obtain phone records for Registe's original arrest warrant, but he says it had nothing to do with the crime itself.

"Everyone has a fundamental right to have and attorney, and they also have the fundamental right to have an attorney of their choosing," said Jackson.

Another topic discussed was a possible change of venue.

Jacksons' motion to move Registe's trial out of Muscogee County was formally filed Friday morning, and it's not just Jackson who thinks the change of venue will be a good idea.

"Everytime we come up to do something, we end up on front page of paper. I think our chances of trying this case south of Chattanooga tends to diminish everytime we do this," said Judge Doug Pullen who has been assigned to Registe's case.

"We have potential jurors making blogs on websites, saying he is guilty, and how can he have a fair trial in the county when potential jurors have already made up their mind and we haven't heard one piece of evidence yet?" said Jackson.

Judge Pullen will hold a hearing Friday, August 14th at 1pm to determine if Stacey Jackson can stay on the case.

Michael Registe is expected to be there, and it would be our first glimpse of him in an American courtroom.

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