Legal Ethics

Lawyer Testifies Against Ex-Client in Obstruction Trial

A defense lawyer testified against her former client in an Alexandria, Va., courtroom yesterday, saying she didn’t believe his phony e-mail was an honest mistake.

The ex-client, former dot-com billionaire Charles Johnson Jr., is being retried on charges of fraud and conspiracy in connection with advertising deals his company made with AOL, the Washington Post reports. A judge declared a mistrial in the first trial after his lawyers withdrew over the e-mail issue. He is now facing an extra charge of obstruction of justice.

Lawyer Bree Murphy testified she and lawyer Preston Burton were unable to verify the authenticity of the e-mail, so they asked prosecutors if they had a copy. After prosecutors indicated they thought the e-mail was fabricated, Johnson insisted it was a mistake and said the government should be informed of it, Murphy said.

“I didn’t believe it was a mistake,” she said. “I didn’t feel comfortable approaching the government with that.”

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