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Legal Ethics

Deadlocked Jury Had Favored Accused Fen-Phen Lawyers

Posted Jul 7, 2008 5:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The foreman of a deadlocked jury that heard the case against three fen-phen lawyers accused of defrauding their clients says the vote was 10-2 in favor of acquitting the remaining two defendants.

Foreman Donald Rainone told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the vote had been 10-2 for much of the deliberations against William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr. The jury acquitted a third defendant, Melbourne Mills Jr., last Tuesday. The three men were accused of defrauding their clients out of $65 million.

Senior U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman declared a mistrial in the case on Friday but refused to lower the bond for Gallion and Cunningham. He told lawyers after the trial "the evidence is even stronger in my mind," according to the Courier-Journal story.

But Rainone told the Courier-Journal that jurors felt prosecutors were unprepared and “just didn't have a strong enough case." He also criticized prosecutors for focusing only on the three defendants.

"There's a lot of people that had their hand in this," he said. "There's a lot of people that should have been on trial that weren't." He declined to name who should have been on trial, saying he didn’t want to get sued.

As for Mills, Rainone said prosecutors barely mentioned him during the trial. Mills' lawyer had argued he was an alcoholic who was unable to form the intent to defraud his clients. Rainone said Mills was "an easy target" with a serious addiction.

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