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Opening Aguments Scheduled in James Kopp Trial

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Opening arguments in the federal trial for anti-abortion extremist James Kopp are scheduled to begin in a Buffalo court room Tuesday morning.

Kopp is already serving 25 years to life for the murder Doctor Barnett Slepian. Unlike Kopp's non-jury, one day trial in state supreme court back in 2003, Kopp has refused to have an attorney represent him for his federal trial. But judge Richard Arcara has assigned public defender John Humann to the case to assist Kopp.

"I am suppose to give him legal advise. If he has a question about a procedure, I am suppose to give him that kind of advise. But mostly it is him. He is doing it," said Humann.

But Humann would not say what advice, if any, Kopp has requested as he prepared for own his case. Human says it is unusual for a defendant to represent himself.

U-S Attorney for the Western District, Terrance Flynn, says when a defendant represents himself, it puts more pressure on the judge to keep things in balance.

"When you have an individual that may or may not know all the rules of evidence it does make it difficult, especially for the judge, because the judge at the same time has to balance each citizen who has the right to represent himself, make sure rules of evidence are applied and that each that party is treated equally under the law," said Flynn.

Kopp was indicted on two counts, a firearms charge that accuses him of using a Russian S-K-S rifle in the murder and a violation of the FACE ACT, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, in which he was charged with interfering with reproductive services.

The government plans to call more than 50 witnesses to testify. At the top of that list is Slepian's wife, Lynne. Kopp's is also expected to call his own witnesses.