Legal Ethics

Prosecutor calls defense an 'unindicted co-conspirator' in rape case; says atty destroyed evidence


A Tennessee prosecutor is contesting whether two California attorneys can represent a defendant in a high-profile rape case, accusing one of destroying evidence and saying that the other is illegally practicing law outside of the jurisdiction in which he is admitted.

In a Friday motion, the Davidson County District Attorney’s office called attorney Albert Perez Jr. an “un-indicted co-conspirator,” and said Perez is conflicted out of defending his client, former football player Brandon Vandenburg, in the claimed rape of a Vanderbilt University student because Perez is now a witness in the case, reports the Nashville Scene.

No details have been provided about what evidence was allegedly destroyed by Perez and how, according to the Tennessean. Vandenburg and three other former players were indicted in August, accused of raping a student in June who could not consent because she was unconscious.

California is Vandenburg’s home state, notes WKRN.

At a Tuesday hearing, Deputy DA Tom Thurman also said a retired California judge on Vandenburg’s defense team is illegally practicing law, the newspaper recounts. It appears that the issue may be, at least in part, procedural: Two Tennessee lawyers, John Herbison and Fletcher Long, are seeking to represent Brandenburg as well, but have not yet been officially OK’d by the court. Meanwhile, the two California lawyers need a Tennessee lawyer as a sponsor, the Tennessean article says. An earlier Tennessean article provides additional details, and says the departure of two prior Tennessee defense attorneys who had been representing Vandenburg left the California lawyers without a sponsor for the time being.

“We vigorously dispute the factual assertions,” Herbison said, and requested a hearing on the claims concerning Perez.

“I’m innocent and I’m going to fight that to the very end,” said Vandenburg in an interview with WTVF.

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