The William Jefferson Chronicles

Mose and Betty Jefferson still seeking attorney
by Gordon Russell, The Times-Picayune
Wednesday September 24, 2008, 10:41 PM

Mose and Betty Jefferson told U.S. Magistrate Judge Alma Chasez on Wednesday that they still lack legal representation for their upcoming fraud trial, a little more than a week after their original attorney, Ike Spears, was removed from the case.

Spears was disqualified by U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle because he had also represented Brenda Foster, the younger sister of the Jefferson siblings and now a witness for the prosecution.

Mose Jefferson told Chasez that he and his elder sister have each consulted with "three or four" lawyers, and he expects both will have one retained by next week. Chasez said that would be acceptable.

She directed the duo, who are charged with bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars from several charities they controlled, to return to court with their attorneys on Wednesday.

Mose Jefferson already has a tentative court date that day. U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon is set to hear oral arguments on a series of motions filed by prosecutors in a separate criminal case in which Jefferson is charged with bribing the former president of the Orleans Parish School Board.

The motions include various prosecution requests to bar Jefferson's attorneys from certain lines of argument, such as making claims about the government's motives in prosecuting him and presenting evidence of Jefferson's "alleged 'good deeds.' "

Arguing those motions will apparently be up to Spears, who is still Jefferson's attorney of record in the School Board case. However, Lemmon is also set to hear a motion next week on whether Spears should be disqualified from that case as well.

Spears, who did not oppose his removal from the charity-fraud case, said this week he might fight the prosecution's motion in the second case. He said he thinks the government's grounds for removing him in the School Board case are much weaker, because Foster is not expected to be a key witness in that case.

The School Board case is set for trial March 23, while the charity case is tentatively scheduled for trial Dec. 1

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