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Lawyer Problems for Ex-Mayor

Posted Aug 22, 2007 10:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A court hearing today may determine whether Newark’s former mayor will keep either of two attorneys originally hired to defend him on corruption charges.

One lawyer says former mayor Sharpe James doesn’t have enough money to pay his fees, and another lawyer has been accused of a conflict of interest, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

Prosecutors contend James lived a lavish lifestyle by charging the city for personal travel and vacation expenses. But a motion filed by Raymond M. Brown of Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis says James can’t afford his firm’s fees. Brown asks that his law firm be removed from the case.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have filed a motion seeking disqualification of James’ other lawyer, Thomas Ashley.

The motion claims Ashley has a conflict of interest because he represented two people in grand jury proceedings who could become witnesses in James’ trial. It also claims Ashley could be called to testify that James visited him in Martha’s Vineyard during a vacation James billed to the city.

A motion filed on Ashley’s behalf accuses the government of sinking to "unthinkable depths" by tarnishing Ashley’s reputation to block James’ choice of counsel.

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