The William Jefferson Chronicles

Mose and Betty Jefferson to update judge on attempts to find a new lawyer
by The Times-Picayune
Wednesday October 01, 2008, 6:00 AM

Mose and Betty Jefferson are scheduled to update U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Moore at 2 p.m. today on their efforts to obtain new legal representation for their upcoming charity-fraud trial.

The two had been jointly represented by Ike Spears until mid-September, when Spears was disqualified from the case.

Prosecutors from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office had asked that Spears be removed because of a conflict: He had also represented a third Jefferson sibling, Brenda Foster, who is expected to help the government make its case that Mose and Betty Jefferson bilked several charities of more than $600,000.

Last week, Mose Jefferson told a magistrate judge that he and his elder sister -- who is also the city's 4th District assessor -- have each consulted with "three or four" lawyers, and he expects both will have one retained by today. The two are supposed to report their progress to Moore.

After the hearing before Moore, Mose Jefferson will head to a nearby courtroom for a motion hearing on a question in his other upcoming federal criminal trial.

Letten's office is seeking the disqualification of Spears in that case as well, in which Jefferson, a political strategist, stands accused of bribing Orleans Parish School Board president Ellenese Brooks-Simms.

The hearing on that question is set for 3 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon.

Spears has said he may fight the government motion -- which he did not do in the charity-fraud case -- because he thinks the prosecution's grounds for removing him are weak. Foster is not expected to be a key witness in that case.

Lemmon will also consider several other motions that seek to limit the lines of argument Jefferson's attorneys may make. Among other things, prosecutors want Lemmon to bar defense lawyers from presenting evidence of Jefferson's "alleged good deeds'" and from making claims about their motives in prosecuting him.

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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