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After two days, Corrine Brown lawyers look to withdraw from case

On Thursday, Corrine Brown’s lawyers in her federal case regarding One Door for Education — a charity she was associated with that functioned more as a slush fund, according to prosecutors — abruptly withdrew from representing her after just two days, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

This is the third loss of legal representation Brown has had since the July indictment, raising real questions as to what kind of defense can be rendered, especially since the latest set of lawyers lack the gravitas of the previous two (Bill Sheppard/Betsy White and Greg Kehoe, respectively.)

NeJame’s firm was hired before Tuesday’s status of counsel conference, replacing Kehoe, who lasted exactly one court appearance before withdrawing.

“The relationship between the undersigned and Corrine Brown has quickly deteriorated to the point of having irreconcilable differences. The nature of these communications are confidential, but suffice to say, irreconcilable differences exist and the relationship is strained where effective representation is compromised,” wrote David Haas, who was representing Brown, along with Mark NeJame.

“As a result, it has created an atmosphere of hostility and distrust not conducive to further representation. Furthermore, a material and significant difference of opinion exists as to case management and the needs of counsel to properly prepare with the client and the client’s availability,” Haas added.

“NeJame Law will return 100 percent of all fees received so that Corrine Brown has all available resources to retain counsel,” Haas continues, adding that the feds “requested that Corrine Brown attend any status conference to determine status of counsel.”

According to U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, Brown has another status conference “on Aug. 24, 2016 at 11 a.m. before the undersigned, in Courtroom No. 10D, Tenth Floor, United States Courthouse, 300 N. Hogan St., Jacksonville, Florida.”

“The Court will be very reluctant to continue this hearing. At least one attorney for each party is required to appear in person at the status conference,” reads Corrigan’s order.

With NeJame Law refunding fees, that leaves Brown without a lawyer. NeJame’s office confirmed both lawyers and the firm are off this case.

The feds want to require Brown to be present at the Wednesday status conference, noting that “trial in this case is currently set on the October 2016 trial term. The motions deadline is Sept. 1, 2016. At this juncture, at which Brown’s legal representation continues to be uncertain, those Court deadlines are becoming unrealistic. However, Brown must secure representation (lasting longer than two business days) so the Court and the government can meaningfully participate in case scheduling discussions.”

“This is now Brown’s third set of lawyers who have either filed an appearance or appeared in Court with Brown. While at this early stage of the Nejame Law Firm’s representation, the government recognizes a 100 percent refund of the representation fee and the short length of the representation militates toward permitting the Nejame Law Firm to withdraw, the representation issue must be settled, or addressed in some other manner.”

“At the Aug. 24, 2016 status conference, or at any hearing set in the interim, the government intends to raise the issue of whether Brown should have counsel appointed to her, with a requirement that Brown reimburse the Court for fees incurred by a Court-appointed attorney, or whether Brown is seeking by default to represent herself, at which point the Court would set a hearing to conduct a Faretta inquiry with Brown,” the prosecution attests.

NeJame Law is known for high-profile cases, with principal Mark NeJame billing himself as the “Johnnie Cochran of Orlando.” He has represented Casey Anthony’s parents, Rep. Alan Grayson in his ugly divorce trial, and Tiger Woods in the past.

He did reject George Zimmerman, however. And now, Corrine Brown.

Rough times for the incumbent, who certainly will be asked about this matter during Thursday’s televised debate.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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