Wednesday, August 5, 2015
NOT SO FAST, CLARK HILL! Government Responds To Martin Crandall's Motion To Withdraw As Steven Ingersoll's Attorney
Looks like Diddy was right — it is all about the Benjamins!
Late yesterday afternoon (August 4), the government filed its response to Martin Crandall's July 20 motion on behalf of law firm Clark Hill PLC to withdraw from Steven Ingersoll's case over a fee dispute.
Crandall asserted in his motion that Ingersoll had “refused to provide Clark Hill with adequate security to pay for legal fees already incurred, which is a necessary prerequisite for Clark Hill’s continued representation in this matter.”
Citing Michigan's Rules of Professional Conduct, Crandall stated in the July 20 motion that a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if “the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer’s services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled.” In his motion, Crandall asserted he had “raised the issue of payment of past-due billings directly with Ingersoll on multiple occasions.”
In its response, the government detailed the legal basis for opposing Crandall's request.
Acknowledging that Ingersoll has “been simultaneously represented by multiple attorneys from Clark Hill PLC throughout this case, from the pre-indictment stage through and including post-verdict motions for judgments of acquittal and for a new trial”, the government cited this local criminal court rule for the Eastern District of Michigan:
An attorney, whether retained or appointed, who enters a post-indictment appearance shall continue to represent the defendant until the case is dismissed, the defendant is acquitted, or the direct appeal is completed unless the attorney is granted leave to withdraw by the District Court or the Court of Appeals if notice of appeal has been filed. E.D. Mich. LCrR 57.1(a).
The government's motion asserted that “the court rule manifests a presumption in this district is that counsel who file an appearance in a criminal case will continue to represent their client until the case is concluded through direct appeal. Clark Hill PLC seeks to be exempted from the general requirement in the local court rule that they continue to represent Ingersoll through the completion of his direct appeal.”
The government's response reveals that attorneys from Clark Hill PLC have represented Ingersoll on this case for over two years. During that time, Clark Hill PLC received well over 7,000 numbered pages of discovery from the government, plus a substantial amount of unnumbered digitally-stored discovery.
Clark Hill, along with Jan Geht as co-counsel, prepared for and represented Ingersoll during a multi-week criminal trial.
The government motion states that “counsel from Clark Hill PLC and Geht brought different skills to the task of representing Ingersoll” in this case. In addition, the government asserts “counsel from Clark Hill PLC have not provided any information regarding the compensation agreement they entered into with Ingersoll.”
Saying it would be inappropriate to allow Clark Hill to withdraw at this point in this case on the basis of their fee dispute, the government's motion revealed there is no indication that Ingersoll wants to discharge counsel from Clark Hill and proceed with Jan Geht representing him going forward in this case.
The government asks Judge Ludington to “give considerable weight to the fact that Ingersoll apparently is not seeking to terminate his relationship with the counsel he chose to retain. A fee dispute simply is not among the matters that the court should consider in deciding whether to allow counsel to withdraw, particularly in the absence of a request by the defendant to allow the withdrawal. To allow defense counsel to withdraw at this juncture on the basis of a fee dispute would be prejudicial to the public and may be prejudicial to Ingersoll’s interests.”
In other words, it's all about the Benjamins, baby.