Colbert County attorney explains why he asked not to represent suspected shooter

He said it was necessary, for multiple reasons.

Posted: Oct 21, 2021 6:48 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2021 9:48 AM

A Colbert County attorney appointed to represent a man facing multiple capital murder charges said he was filing a motion within hours to ask he be removed from the case. 

Nathan Johnson said it was a necessary move because he has so many cases already on his plate. 

"I have three current capital cases now, and that would just be too much," Johnson said. "It wouldn't be fair to the defendant and also to our community, because you don't want to try this case more than once."

Johnson said it wouldn't be ethical or possible for him to take Brian Lansing Martin's case in addition to the 36 other cases in which he's the court-appointed attorney. 

"It's never my intention to represent anyone who is accused of shooting a law enforcement (officer) or first responder in this community," Johnson said.

"I have too much respect for them, and they put their lives on the line every day. ... However, I do have a justifiable and legal reason not to take that case, and the judge realized that."

He said having a stressful workload is normal, but with a higher-profile case like Martin's, the goal is for it to be lock tight because it will be reviewed extensively after it's over. 

After Johnson was removed the case, the remaining eligible attorneys in Colbert County were each found to also have conflicts of interest preventing them from representing Martin.

A Colbert County judge appointed Franklin County attorney Rebecca Green Thomason to represent Martin

Thomason has since asked for a preliminary trial hearing set for Monday to be pushed back so she has more time to review the case.

A new date for the hearing had not been set as of Thursday afternoon.

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