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Man convicted of killing Michael Jordan's father got 30 minutes to fight for his freedom

Daniel Green fired his attorney and made his own oral argument in front of the judge.

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Amanda Lamb
, WRAL reporter

I knew before I walked into the courtroom in Harnett County last week that Daniel Green was seeking to fire his attorney, Chris Mumma. I didn’t hear it from Daniel, although we usually speak on the phone weekly, if not more. But Green has been in solitary confinement recently, a place he calls “the hole,” so we hadn’t talked in at least 10 days. Mumma was the one who told me what to expect.

But I still didn’t really expect it to happen. Over the years, Green and Mumma have had many disagreements about how to proceed in his case. It’s only natural that Green distrusts people after his negative experience with the criminal justice system over the past three decades. Yet, somehow, they always seemed to find common ground and continue their partnership.

Mumma has taken Green’s case further than any other attorney has since he was convicted in 1996. (Our podcast, Follow The Truth, covered the main points of the case and Mumma’s arguments in episode 8.) The North Carolina Court of Appeals threw out a lower court ruling against Green in 2021 after Mumma vehemently argued in her brief that it was the incorrect decision. The case was remanded back to the lower court. That’s where we were last week. Mumma was once again ready to argue on Green’s behalf that he deserves an evidentiary hearing, the last step to a new trial. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Green fired Mumma, his attorney of more than six years, and made his own oral argument in front of the judge.

A stunned audience watched as the 47-year-old in a prison-issued, gray T-shirt and white pants had the shackles around his wrists unlocked by the deputies. He ad-libbed an argument that in many ways he had been preparing for all these years, locked in a cell surrounded by his files and law books. But the truth was, he wasn’t prepared at all. He didn’t know the judge would ask him to argue on this day if he fired his attorney. It was like watching someone who forgot to study for the test give it his best shot. It was hard to watch, hard to hear, hard to comprehend that this man who had been in prison since he was 18 had just 30 minutes to fight for his freedom.

In episode 13 of the Follow the Truth podcast, we take you into that courtroom, and walk you through, step by step, what happened, what it felt like and what happens now. Is this the end of the line for Green? We don’t know, but it sure felt like it in that courtroom.