Cravath Withdraws as Pro Bono Counsel Following Claim of Altered Tape
Cravath, Swaine & Moore has withdrawn as pro bono counsel for a convict who won a new trial on the basis of another man’s audiotaped murder confession that is now alleged to be a fake.
Cravath and co-counsel Thomas Hoffman both deny any wrongdoing in the case, the AmLaw Daily reports. Cravath partner Stuart Gold told the publication that Judge Joel Blumenfeld of Queens, N.Y., said the firm and Hoffman could not continue representing client Kareem Bellamy because the defense lawyers could be called as witnesses.
The informant who supplied the tape has told authorities he staged the confession because he was paid “thousands of dollars by the attorneys for Kareem Bellamy,” the New York Times reported last Friday. The publication says Bellamy’s lawyers now acknowledge the tape is a fake but say they weren’t aware of it earlier.
Hoffman told the Times he didn’t even know the informant until he contacted one of his private investigators and said a friend had confessed to the murder for which Bellamy was convicted. Hoffman said the informant was later paid to relocate because he feared for his life, and that prosecutors and the judge were informed of the payment.
Blumenfeld scheduled a hearing for Nov. 13 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tape.