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Judge Rejects Stanford Lawyers' Bid to Withdraw, Jan. 23 Trial Date Still Stands

Bruce Carton | January 13, 2012

On December 22, U.S. District Judge David Hittner ruled that alleged Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford was competent to stand trial, despite his doctors assertions that he had developed total amnesia of all events prior to September 2009. The judge followed that up with another ruling on December 28 denying a request by Stanford to push the trial until late April 2012 to give them more time to review documents with Stanford, and keeping a January 23 trial date. But if you thought that Stanford was just going to take his lumps and roll into trial on January 23, then you clearly have not been paying attention to the circus that is the Allen Stanford criminal case. 

Shortly after the judge's December 8 order, Stanford's legal team filed a flurry of new motions. First, he argued, the case should be dismissed because Stanford's rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments had been violated. CNBC reports that Stanford based these claims on "his treatment while in federal custody, and what the defense contends was an illegal seizure of records in a related civil case." Judge Hittner denied this motion.

Second, his entire defense team then tried to withdraw from the case on Jan. 11, just 12 days prior to the start of jury selection. Stanford's court-appointed lawyers claimed they had not been given enough time or resources to prepare an adequate defense, Bloomberg reports, meaning that Stanford would be denied "effective assistance of counsel." Again the court was unpersuaded, noting that two of the lawyers had been on the case since November 2010, and two others had been appointed in March 2011.

The trial remains on track to begin on January 23, but given the history, it is probably wise to expect the unexpected between now and then.