A Roanoke Rapids man awaiting trial in federal court on weapons charges in Northampton County is seeking a new attorney and believes his right to a speedy trial has been violated, according to documents filed in his case.
In a letter to District Judge Louise Wood Flanagan dated March 15 and filed on Friday, Michael Christopher Harris wrote he believes his current counsel is ineffective. “We can’t come to common ground on (whether he is) giving me my federal discovery since he has been my counsel and my trial is (supposed) to commence on July 10th, 2022,” he said in the handwritten letter.
Harris said his case isn’t complex. “I’m entitled to due process in the United States.”
Harris said he believes his right to a speedy trial has been violated “and I would like to know when it started and when (it is supposed) to stop in this matter (because) this case has been going on for three years. I need new counsel that can be effective.”
The motion was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers II who will hear the motion on April 8 in Raleigh.
Last month Harris pleaded not guilty to the two counts he faces and his trial was set to commence in July in New Bern.
He consented to a magistrate arraignment and pleaded not guilty to counts 1 and 2 of his indictment — a charge he possessed ammunition while previously being convicted of a crime on November 21 of 2018 and the second that he possessed a firearm and ammo around April 3 of 2019.
Proceedings in his case were slowed due to a competency hearing. Results of that hearing have been completed but are sealed from public inspection.
The only reference made in court documents to possible competency issues regarding Harris was made in a motion last year by his attorney which said he “continues to have concern regarding Mr. Harris’s competency, and needs to consult with additional experts to determine the extent of damage caused to Mr. Harris’s brain when he sustained a gunshot wound to his head on April 3, 2019.”
The federal indictment warrants stem from two separate shooting investigations that took place in Northampton County on November 21 of 2018 and April 3 of 2019.