UPDATE: "Cutthroat" Simpson has new trial date and new attorney, - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: "Cutthroat" Simpson has new trial date and new attorney, his 5th one

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE: One of the men charged in a murder case dating back to 2010 appeared before a Judge with a new attorney Monday. It's his fifth lawyer since the case began.

Attorney Mike Acuff is representing John "Cutthroat" Simpson in his murder trial. Acuff, who was just appointed to the case last month, told Judge Don Poole he needs more time to review his client's file.

Judge Poole said Monday the trial will have a new start date of December 9 with another status hearing in two weeks.

Simpson is the third co-defendant to go to trial for the 2010 murder of Bernard Hughes. Two other men are already serving life sentences. 

UPDATE:  New details in a case we've been following for more than 2 years.  John "Cut Throat" Simpson has a new attorney.  Simpson is charged with the 2010 shooting death of Bernard Hughes.  Joe Lodato will now take on the case. He's Cut Throat's 5th lawyer.  
Simpson fired his fourth one Daniel Ripper on Wednesday, the day he was supposed to stand trial.

That day Simpson was scolded by a judge for manipulating the court system by finding ways to intentionally delay his trial, which has been reset 6 times.  Simpson's newest trial date is set for November 18th.  The judge said if Cut Throat fires this lawyer, he will waive his right to attorney and represent himself.


The trial of a Chattanooga man charged with murder was delayed for the sixth time Wednesday. The judge scolded John "Cutthroat" Simpson for abusing the system. He's one of three men involved in the shooting death of Bernard Hughes in 2010.

Judge Don Poole told Simpson the delays will not be tolerated any longer. It's been especially frustrating for Hughes' family, who comes to every single court appearance and has been waiting more than four years for justice.
"It's been four years. This happened in 2010. When is this gonna end? When is the closure gonna come? That's all we want," said Berlinda Hughes. Her twin brother, Bernard, was murdered during a robbery in July 2010.

"Whatever he had, all you had to do was just ask him, he would give it to you if he had it," said the victim's mother, Burnett Hughes.

It's been a long four years for Hughes' family. Two men, Harold Butler and Unjolee Moore, were convicted of first degree murder and are both serving life sentences. But the last co-defendant, Simpson, has yet to go to trial.

"I have came to every court date, every hearing, every arraignment, because I'm gonna fight for (Bernard), and fight for justice for him," Berlinda said.

Simpson's trial had been pushed back six times in two years. Each time, in the days leading up to the trial, a conflict came up between Simpson and his lawyer. He's been through four of them -- plus representing himself.

"Mr. Simpson, it would appear to me that you're doing everything in the world to keep from trying the case," said Judge Poole.

Just days before Wednesday's trial date, Simpson filed a motion to fire his fourth lawyer, Daniel Ripper, who has represented him since March. In the handwritten petition, Simpson claimed the two "never discussed the case." But Ripper said that wasn't the case.

"We have the exact same theory of the case. He has presented it to me exactly the same way I subsequently presented it to him," Ripper told the judge.

But Simpson claimed there was still an "ethical conflict."

"I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about because it has never been addressed to me," Ripper said.

Simpson has one more shot with an attorney. If it doesn't work out, the judge said Simpson will waive his right to an attorney and will stand trial on his own.

"This case is not going to get dismissed. That leaves trial as the only option," Ripper said. "Four years is a lot longer than it usually takes a case like this to get to trial."

"It's like, I can't actually put my brother to rest... because we're still dealing with him getting murdered," Berlinda said.

Simpson will be appointed a new lawyer on Friday morning. The case is set to go to trial -- for the seventh time -- on November 18.

Timeline of Simpson's trial delays

July 14, 2010: Simpson arrested in connection to Hughes' murder.
Apr. 23, 2012: Simpson's first attorney, Todd Hastey, filed order to withdraw as counsel, based on Simpson's  complaints to court and Board of Professional Responsibility.
Apr. 24, 2012: Simpson's first/original scheduled trial date
May 3, 2012: Mike Little appointed as Simpson's second attorney. Trial reset for October 2, 2012.
Sept. 20, 2012: Simpson's second attorney, Little, filed motion to withdraw as counsel.
Oct. 2, 2012: Simpson's second scheduled trial date
Oct. 10, 2012: John Brooks appointed as Simpson's third attorney. Trial reset for Dec. 11, 2012. Simpson waives counsel to represent himself.
Nov. 30, 2012: Simpson files motion to continue Dec. 11 trial date.
Dec. 11, 2012: Simpson's third scheduled trial date
Dec. 13, 2012: State requests Simpson either enter a plea or schedule a trial.
Dec. 19, 2012: Trial reset for Jan. 29, 2013.
Jan. 22, 2013: Simpson enters a guilty plea for second degree murder (with Brooks as elbow counsel).
Jan. 29, 2013:  Simpson's fourth scheduled trial date
June 21, 2013: Simpson's co-defendant, Unjolee Moore, convicted of first degree murder.
July 25, 2013: Simpson files pro se motion to be granted a 72-hour mental evaluation
Sept. 5, 2013: Simpson's co-defendant, Harold Butler, convicted of first degree murder.
Sept. 11, 2013: Simpson files motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
Oct. 7, 2013: Simpson's mental evaluation is ordered.
Oct. 10, 2013: Simpson files pro se motion to stop self-representation.
Oct. 29, 2013: Simpson is deemed mentally competent.
Oct. 30, 2013: Brooks is again appointed as Simpson's attorney. Trial reset for Mar. 11, 2014.
Feb. 27, 2014: Brooks files motion to withdraw as counsel.
Mar. 10, 2014: Daniel Ripper appointed as Simpson's fourth attorney.
Mar. 11, 2014: Simpson's fifth scheduled trial date
Mar. 12, 2014: Trial reset for Sept. 3, 2014.
Aug. 18, 2014: Final pre-trial conference. Case is ready for trial.
Aug. 21, 2014: Simpson files pro se motion to fire Ripper.
Sept. 3, 2014: Simpson's sixth scheduled trial date
Sept. 3, 2013: Ripper no longer represents Simpson. Trial reset for Nov. 18, 2014.
Sept. 5, 2014: Judge Poole will appoint Simpson a new (his fifth) attorney.
Nov. 18, 2014: Simpson's seventh scheduled trial date

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