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Armed Attorney Forced Off Murder Case

Posted Jul 6, 2007 3:15 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Florida attorney who allegedly carried a loaded gun into a Broward County courthouse in his briefcase has been removed as defense counsel in a murder case and charged with carrying a concealed firearm.

Stephen Finta, 59, told the judge in the case that he was carrying the .357 Ruger due to death threats against him, reports the Miami Herald. But the weapon, for which he reportedly may not have had a permit, apparently proved a bonanza for his client, Andre Hall. He successfully sought to have Finta removed from the case and thus obtained a mistrial, since jury selection had begun.

Finta was Hall's eighth attorney, according to prosecutor Brian Cavanaugh, who says the defendant has a history of booting his defense lawyers on the eve of trial. Hall, who is serving a life prison term in another murder case, has been awaiting trial in the current case since 1999, the longest delay among all of Broward County's defendants.

''I never intended for this to happen,'' Finta told Broward Circuit Judge John Murphy today. "I apologize to the court for my negligence and the time and money wasted because of my actions.''

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