The attorneys for R. Allen Stanford, Ali Fazel and Robert Scardino, from Scardino & Fazel LLP, were issued payment from public money because all of Stanford’s assets were frozen. The attorneys submitted their request to be removed to United States District Judge David Hittner 12 days prior to the scheduled start of the trial. They said that budget constraints and a denial from the court of a motion to consider postponing the start date of the trial caused them to improperly represent Stanford.
R. Allen Stanford, who is scheduled to stand trial beginning on January 23 for reportedly creating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, has seen his lawyers request that a federal judge from Texas allow them to remove themselves from working the case. The lawyers claim that some restrictions imposed by the court are keeping the lawyers from effectively performing their job.
“Simply stated, the rulings of this court, the budget matters made public by this court and matters still under seal have placed counsel in an untenable position,” the request said.
The two lawyers said that they withdrew because of ethical obligations to provide their client with the best legal counsel possible, which they were not doing because of the limitations, which made them violate Stanford’s due process rights.
Budget restraints were placed on the defense team, which is being publicly funded, by Judge Hittner, which has prevented them from using experts that they claim are very important to the case. The withdrawal request claims that the court permitted the defense team to bring on a consultant for the jury back in May. Then, not long after the defense team used its money when working with the consultant, the approval from the court was pulled, claiming that the approval was a mistake.
If the attorneys were not permitted to withdraw from the case, they asked that there be a delay in the trial for at least 90 days.
Time problems were also cited by the defense team in the withdrawal request because Stanford suffered an injury to his brain while in prison, which took time away from trial preparation.
On January 3, companies providing the defense with expert services and document management quit the case because they claim they had yet to be paid. Those vendors began working with the defense team again after their payment was approved by the court. The defense team claims that things were delayed because of all the confusing issues and the late payment.
Stanford is the ex-chairman of the Stanford Financial Group Co. He has been charged with 14 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction and conspiracy charges. He allegedly misappropriated billions of money in funds from investors. This includes $1.6 billion he reportedly put into his personal accounts. Stanford issued a plea of not guilty back in June of 2009.
During this time, the defense team was trying to finish the process of discovery while they were also planning for a competency hearing as a result of the Stanford brain injury. The attorneys also said that there was little help from their client because they claimed incompetence and was spending nine months in a medical center. On December 22 Stanford was ruled that he could stand trial because he was competent.
Information researched from Texas Lawyer; an ALM Publication and News Daily.