PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal court judge in Philadelphia is considering whether to allow indicted Congressman Chaka Fattah’s defense team to withdraw from representing him, because Fattah isn’t keeping up with his payment arrangements.
Their request to be removed from the case comes three months ahead of Fattah’s corruption trial.
Defense lawyer Kevin Mincey says the team was “eager to try the case,” but it’s a small firm and they “can’t afford to loan the amount of time to put in” for a lengthy trial, without getting paid.
Judge Harvey Bartle asked whether new counsel would be able to digest 900,000 pages of documents that grew out of the 29-count, 85-page indictment. Mincey believes they could, and a larger firm could absorb a more drawn out payment schedule.
Fattah says he’s already laid out $300,000 in legal fees, and he acknowledges his current priority is fundraising for his re-election campaign.
“I’m not saying that I’m not taking seriously this matter, but one does come after the other.”
An 11-term congressman, Fattah faces several opponents in the April 26th Democratic primary.
His corruption trial is scheduled to start the following week, on May 2nd. Judge Bartle, who said he would rule as quickly as possible, told the Congresman that he should think about his priorities.
The judge brought Fattah to the bar of the court and asked several questions, including whether Fattah was contemplating representing himself. Fattah replied “I am not, I plan to retain competent counsel.”
Chaka Fattah, Jr., the Congressman’s son, represented himself last year at his bank and tax fraud case, and was convicted on all but one of 23-counts. Chip Fattah is appealing.