SALT LAKE CITY — A San Juan County commissioner facing misdemeanor charges in connection with a government protest appeared in court on Tuesday, asking the feds to pay for his lawyer.

Commissioner Phil Lyman had been appointed a federal public defender to represent him in the criminal case against him over the Recapture Canyon protest earlier this year. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah objected, claiming he made too much money to have a public defense attorney.

Prosecutors told the judge that Lyman was an accountant with his own business, and claimed he owns nearly $650,000 worth of property in the Four Corners area. They said he could afford his own attorney.

But the commissioner’s appointed defense attorney told the judge that he didn’t believe the government was merely worried about his financial affairs.

“At some point, I think, the perception becomes that this is beyond just an inquiry into…

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