LAS VEGAS (CN) — Cliven Bundy will have a new attorney representing him against 16 felony charges stemming from his armed standoff with law enforcement in 2014, but he will have to pay for it.
Bundy, 70, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen Thursday morning and again in the afternoon, asking to have Las Vegas attorney Bret Whipple confirmed as his legal counsel to replace Joel Hansen.
Hansen last week told Leen he needs spinal fusion surgery on his neck and back and will spend up to 12 weeks recuperating, which will make it impossible for him to continue representing Bundy.
On Thursday, Bundy told Leen he didn't know if he could afford to hire Whipple, but said, "I'd like to pay my own bill."
Whipple told Leen that Bundy had paid him a $1,000 retainer, and Bundy on Thursday filed paperwork to have Whipple appointed via the Criminal Justice Act — which Leen denied, as Bundy has more than $300,000 in assets available.
Leen expressed concern Bundy might try to manipulate the system by changing his legal representation again, and said she wants continuity in his legal representation.
Leen gave Bundy until Oct. 20 to reach a deal with Whipple, who is with the Justice Law Center law firm in Las Vegas.
Whipple formerly worked three years with the Clark County Public Defender office and three years as the county's Special Public Defender office, which specializes in murder and death penalty cases.
Bundy and 16 co-defendants face up to 80 years in prison on up to 16 felony charges each. He 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.
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