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Appeals court rules against Minnesota man who punched defender

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — Punch your public defender in court and you’re on your own, that’s the message the Minnesota Court of Appeals sent a Chisholm man on Tuesday.

William Edwin Lehman Jr. pummeled attorney Mark Groettum in a Hibbing courtroom during his July 2006 trial on felony assault.

Lehman challenged a decision to deny his right to court-appointed counsel and a decision to shackle him for the rest of the trial. He also complained that no evidentiary hearing was held on the matter.

The three-judge appeals panel says the district court did not abuse its power by denying Lehman a new public defender. They also say it was justified to shackle Lehman and say a separate hearing wasn’t necessary because Lehman punched his attorney in front of the judge and jury.

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