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Tuesday hearing slated for latest Corrine Brown lawyer withdrawal

Tuesday at 2 p.m. sees yet another procedural hearing in the Corrine Brown federal case, regarding the motion to withdraw from her latest attorneys, Mark NeJame and David Haas.

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 motioned to withdraw 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 last Tuesday’s status of counsel conference, replacing Kehoe, who lasted exactly one court appearance before withdrawing.

“The relationship … has quickly deteriorated to the point of having irreconcilable differences … and the relationship is strained … 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 wrote.

The prosecution, for its part, intends to raise the issue of whether Brown should have counsel appointed to her.

Brown, in a pyrotechnic press availability Thursday that saw her make a comparison of her charges to false allegations of pedophilia among journalists, discounted the possibility of having a court-appointed lawyer, saying that she doesn’t talk to the prosecutors.

In case there was any doubt about her devotion to the questionable parallel between the indictment against her and such allegations, she returned to the comparison of her plight to allegations of pedophilia in a perhaps ill-advised blog post to the Florida Press Corps on Friday.

The congresswoman from Florida’s 5th Congressional District, along with Chief of Staff Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, face a combined 24 charges, enumerated in a 46-page indictment.

Brown faces a possible 357 years in prison and $4.8 million fine if all counts are found valid, as well as almost $900,000 in restitution.

Theories of her difficulty in maintaining a lawyer include a lack of funds and attorneys telling her to strike a plea bargain, a proposition perhaps coded in Haas’ language in the motion to withdraw.

When asked about her anemic $25,000 cash-on-hand in the campaign, and the loss of a third set of lawyers on Thursday, Brown said “yes,” she was having a cash issue.

“It’s a very challenging balance running a campaign and [paying] legal bills,” Brown said, “but I’ve done everything I need to do to campaign.”

Of course, Brown had another issue regarding her campaign Saturday, with a 99-year-old woman telling a story of being stood up by the congresswoman, who allegedly was going to pick her up in a limo and take her to a supporters’ breakfast.

Brown’s camp did not respond to a Saturday afternoon request for comment.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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