White-Collar Crime

After Federal Judge Bans Counsel Changes, Onetime Billionaire Tells New Lawyer He's Fired

Only six weeks ago, a federal judge in Houston, Texas, told onetime billionaire. R. Allen Stanford that his two new lawyers would be his last.

But already Stanford is testing that limit on counsel substitutions: One of the two new lawyers defending the Houston businessman in a criminal case over an alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme is seeking to withdraw, saying that Stanford has fired him, reports the Houston Chronicle.

It’s not clear whether U.S. District Judge David Hittner will grant Mike Essmyer’s motion to withdraw from the case.

In a hearing April 6, after OK’ing the appointment of Essmyer and Robert Bennett, the judge told Stanford he wouldn’t approve any more counsel changes, as detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.

“I have the Sixth Amendment right to pick my own counsel,” replied Stanford to the judge at that hearing last month.

Responded Hittner: “Over and over again?”

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