Former Los Angeles vice mayor files bribery charges
- US News
- March 16, 2023
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Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan has asked a federal judge to declare his federal corruption case a mistrial, saying his attorney is medically unfit to represent him in the case.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter on Thursday declined to grant the request, saying he could not make a decision without more details on the illness of Chan’s attorney Harland Braun, whose hospitalization on March 2 stalled the trial.
Walter ordered Chan’s legal team to file the medical records sealed by Sunday and return to court Wednesday to discuss the matter further.
Chan, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, racketeering, wire fraud and false testimony, said in a court filing that Braun, 80, could not represent him for “at least several months.”
“Attempting to proceed with the trial when Harland Braun is physically unable to attend my defense would mean that I would be tried without my sole counsel, without counsel of my choice, and without effective counsel support.” , Chan said in a statement .
Braun has been Chan’s attorney for about four years. A little over a week into the trial, he fell ill, prompting the judge to order a three-week delay in testimony.
Chan said in his filing that his other attorney, Brendan Pratt, served on the defense team in only a “limited support and observational learning role.” Pratt “has no trial experience and has never practiced unsupervised in federal or state courts,” Chan wrote.
Pratt lacks the legal expertise to protect Chan’s constitutional rights in a case that could result in “decades of imprisonment,” he said.
After Braun became ill, he was taken to UCLA Medical Center where he underwent surgery. According to another Chan lawyer, Braun was suffering from an infection that affected his organs and is expected to take at least three months to recover.
At a previous hearing, Walter said he opposed a trial and at one point suggested Pratt familiarize himself with the exhibits from the trial. He also told the attorneys he would do everything in his power to keep the case going.
Prosecutors still have four witnesses in the case, which is expected to be the last trial arising from a federal probe that uncovered a city hall extortion ring led by former LA Councilman Jose Huizar.
In January, Huizar pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax evasion, admitting to beating down real estate developers for more than $1.5 million in bribes for downtown development.