LAS VEGAS (CN) — Cliven Bundy has until Wednesday to iron out details to make Bret Whipple his new attorney for his criminal trial in Las Vegas, a federal magistrate judge ruled.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen set the deadline on Friday. She previously cautioned Bundy against gratuitously changing attorneys to establish grounds for an appeal.
Whipple is to replace Joel Hansen, who needs neck and back surgery, and 12 weeks of recovery time. Whipple was not present at the Friday hearing, and had attorney Jeb Bond address the court.
Bond said Whipple was busy obtaining information in Oregon and Washington and asked for more time to complete details of the attorney transfer.
Leen scheduled a tentative hearing for 2 p.m. Wednesday. If an agreement is complete before then and filed with the court, the hearing will be vacated.
Bundy, 70, and 16 co-defendants face up to 80 years in prison on up to 16 felony charges each. Bundy also faces a $3 million fine for unpaid federal grazing fees and penalties for interfering with the Bureau of Land Management.
Bundy and his supporters held off federal and local officials in April 2014, when they tried to round up cattle Bundy had grazed on federal land without a permit and without paying grazing fees for more than 20 years, and for 16 years after a federal judge told him to keep his cattle off the federal land near Bunkerville, Nev.
Two co-defendants pleaded guilty and await sentencing. The rest are scheduled for trial starting Feb. 6, 2017.
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