Judge Coffee orders both Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith to find their lawyers by Friday as he will not grant them more time to figure out the finances to hire outside attorneys.
Both men appeared in a Memphis courtroom on January 28 regarding their legal representation. During that court date, they asked Judge Lee Coffee if they could have more time to find outside representation instead of going with a public defender. With something as serious as a murder trial, a public defender is probably not in anyone’s best interest.
Asking for more time is also a bold move, especially for Justin Johnson, who claimed he would turn himself in then went on the run and had to be captured by US Marshalls. Perhaps had he turned himself in the judge would have granted his request. Judge Coffee instead declined and made February 4th their hard deadline for representation.
“If you have a lawyer hired, that’s fine, but as I told you 10 days ago, I cannot allow you to sit in jail week after week, month after month, without a lawyer,” said Judge Coffee. “If you don’t have a lawyer hired on Feb. 4, I’m going to hire a private attorney to represent both of you all.”
Ready or not, they will face the Tennessee legal system starting at the end of the week. Next week, we will begin to understand what went into this senseless crime that took a neighborhood hero from us too early.