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Judge Says Reality Winner Can Pay for Her Own Lawyer

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Reality Winner got some bad news after trying to transfer $30,000 into her mother’s account so she’d appear poor enough for a court-appointed attorney.

Judge Brian Epps just signed an order to terminate her court-appointed lawyer, Titus Nichols, and is requiring her to reimburse him. She may retain Nichols at her own expense if she chooses to do so.

Via Daily Report:

The judge who appointed Titus Nichols of Augusta to be Reality Winner’s lawyer has changed his mind—not about the lawyer but about who pays the bill.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps of the Southern District of Georgia has signed an order terminating his appointment of Nichols to represent Winner as court-appointed counsel.

The judge had met for the first time Monday with the 25-year-old government contractor charged with sharing a secret report on Russian interference in the American presidential election. Epps chose for her a criminal defense attorney who is also a judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and a former prosecutor. Nichols is an associate with the Bell & Brigham firm in Augusta, handling criminal defense and personal injury cases.

At that first appearance, the judge asked Winner for an affidavit to demonstrate her need for court-appointed counsel. After reading it, Epps issued a new order.

“The court determined defendant has sufficient funds to retain counsel of her own choosing and does not qualify for court appointed counsel under the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3006A (“CJA”), Epps wrote Tuesday. “Accordingly, the court TERMINATES the appointment of CJA counsel Titus Nichols and INSTRUCTS Mr. Nichols to file his CJA voucher on or before June 20, 2017.”

The judge directed Winner to reimburse the court for Nichols’ expenses for her initial appearance and then pay her own tab.

“Mr. Nichols will no longer represent defendant unless defendant chooses to retain him with her own funds,” the judge wrote.

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