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Cortez Sims

A Hamilton County man will remain partnered with his attorney for at least another week and a half, despite several attempts to part ways before his upcoming murder trial.

Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman said Thursday he wants more time to consider a motion attorney Brandy Spurgin-Floyd filed last week for her client, Cortez Sims, the 19-year-old man accused of killing one and injuring three in a January 2015 shooting at College Hill Courts.

"I'm concerned there will be claims at a later point that Ms. Spurgin wasn't prepared for this hearing on the motions," Steelman said, before ordering a new court date on Sept. 12.

On that day, Steelman said, he hopes to deal with the Sept. 27 trial date and the outstanding feud Sims has with his lawyer.

Sims got the ball rolling early last month when he filed an official complaint with a state board, saying he wanted to fire Spurgin-Floyd because of her inexperience. As a result, Spurgin-Floyd also filed a motion to get off the case.

During at least two hearings on the matter, Steelman asked Sims to discuss his concerns. But on Aug. 22, when Sims refused to write down a "technical" issue he had with Spurgin-Floyd, the judge denied his request and sent him back to county jail.

Spurgin-Floyd turned around and filed a motion asking Steelman to give her permission to appeal the decision. During a meeting earlier this week to address the motion, prosecutors urged Steelman to hold to the current trial date to protect the state's witnesses — one of whom was shot to death in late May. Steelman told everyone to return Thursday.

At that time, he called Sims to the podium to address another handwritten "motion to discharge/release attorney."

Sims outlined a number of frustrations: He wanted jurors from a different county to hear his trial, he wanted his attorney to suppress certain identifications, he was upset that media outlets had turned one occasion where he smiled into an indictment of his presumed innocence, and he was frustrated that TV stations had aired a different clip of his argument with Steelman on Aug. 22.

A friend who lived more than 16 hours away learned about the time he walked into a courtroom and smiled, Sims said.

"How did he find out about that?" the 19-year-old asked.

Probably the internet, Steelman said.

As for the rest of Sims' concerns, Steelman addressed them one by one: Reasonable jurors, even if they're from Hamilton County, usually withhold judgment until they hear all the facts. Attorneys don't have to file certain motions if they disagree with clients on the likely effectiveness of them. And people don't watch boring court news. Plus, Steelman said, Sims did directly disobey one of his orders.

Sims summoned another issue — Spurgin-Floyd said her representation would be affected because of the feud. On this point, Steelman seemed to sympathize.

"I am concerned about that," he said.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow on Twitter @zackpeterson918.

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