Third Lawyer Steps Down in Gigi Jordan Case
By Kiratiana Freelon on July 12, 2011 8:50pm
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A third lawyer has stepped down from representing a wealthy woman charged with murdering her autistic son, citing a conflict of interest.
At a contentious court hearing Thursday, defense attorney Michele Roberts asked to be excused from the case, in what is at least the third time a lead attorney for the millionairess has hasked to get off of the now-1 1/2 year-old criminal case.
Roberts said she had a conflict in representing Jordan because her firm, Skadden Arps, also represents Merrill Lynch, which Jordan's legal team plans to attack as part of her defense when they bring up her financial and personal history.
Roberts was granted a refusal by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon, as were Jordan's two previous lead attorneys, Gerald Shargel and John Wing.
Still representing Jordan are Ron Kuby and Alan Dershowitz, who said they expect to bring on another lawyer to take the lead on the case by September, they said.
"We do not foresee in any way shape or form requiring additional time in the course of this case," Kuby assured the judge Tuesday.
The legal team pushed ahead with the case Tuesday, asking a judge to compel prosecutors to tell them whether a small sample of blood taken at Bellevue Hospital after Jordan's purported suicide attempt was ever tested by prosecutors.
Jordan, 50, allegedly forced a prescription pill overdose on her autistic son, Jude Mirra, 8, on Feb. 5, 2010.
She apparently tried to kill herself in a similar manner but failed and was rushed to Bellevue Hospital for treatment where blood was taken, a key piece of evidence that could help prosecutors prove what they believe may have been a fake suicide attempt.
Judge Solomon declined to force prosecutors to turn over the results of any test Tuesday.
Attorneys for Jordan are expected to lodge a psychiatric defense when the case eventually goes to trial.
Prosecutors said they need more time to respond to a request by Jordan's attorneys to consent to her release on similar house-arrest conditions as Dominique Strauss-Kahn prior to his release from house arrest at a TriBeCa penthouse June 1.
Defense lawyers have also raised concerns about how much evidence in the case was affected by disgraced NYPD lab technician Mariem Megalla. Megalla, a 20-year veteran staffer at the department's forensics lab, was allegedly caught taking "shortcuts" and faking drug test results at the police laboratory, prosecutors announced in May.
Kuby told reporters Megalla conducted inconclusive tests on a piece of glass and a pill crusher found in the high-end hotel room where Mirra and Jordan were found.
Between the delay in blood test results for Jordan on the night of accident and the involvement of the crooked lab worker, Kuby called Jordan's case a "forensic nightmare."
Assistant District Attorney Kerry O'Connell said she told Jordan's defense team about the Megalla involvement in the crime scene evidence testing. It does not appear Megalla's role in the testing is significantly damaging to the prosecution, she said.
Jordan's case was adjourned to Aug. 11 for discussions on Jordan's request for bail.