Posted Sep 13, 2011 12:31 am CDT
A high-profile New Jersey criminal defense lawyer is about to take on the biggest trial of his career–his own.
A federal judge in Newark today agreed that attorney Paul Bergrin could defend himself against a 33-count murder conspiracy and racketeering indictment, although U.S. District Judge William Martini discouraged him from doing so, reports the Star-Ledger.
Even acting as his own lawyer, Bergrin will be restricted in his courtroom movements and will not be allowed to hand documents to witnesses or participate in sidebar conferences at the bench.
Attorney Alan Lustberg, who Bergrin says he can no longer afford to pay, is expected to be appointed to assist him in his trial defense.
Among the witnesses expected to testify against Bergrin, who is accused of operating his law firm as a criminal enterprise and plotting to murder a witness in a client’s case, is a fellow New Jersey lawyer, Thomas Moran Jr. He previously pleaded guilty to allegedly conspiring with Bergrin to hire a Chicago hit man to murder a government witness in a cocaine case.
Bergrin’s trial is expected to begin Oct. 11.
Additional and related coverage:
ABAJournal.com: “2nd N.J. Attorney Charged re Alleged Law Office Conspiracy to Murder Witness”
ABAJournal.com: “Is Ex-Prosecutor Accused of Trying to Arrange Witness Murders Now Cooperating with Feds?”
ABAJournal.com: “Expanded New RICO Indictment Accuses Alleged Rogue Attorney of More Law-Firm-Related Crimes”
ABAJournal.com: “High-Profile Defense Attorney Accused of Practicing Law in RICO Enterprise May Represent Himself”