Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Olszewski Rules: Fannick Can Not Represent Harlow Cuadra

Demetrius Fannick

Update Citizen's Voice (3/20/08 @ 5:11 am) also has an update to the story, and adds: Cuadra hired Fannick on Jan. 28 to take over for conflict counsel Stephen Menn, Michael Senape and Paul Galante. Fannick has seven days to return court material to those three men, who will resume their roles as Cuadra’s attorneys.

“Had Atty. Fannick testified under oath that no substantive discussions occurred, today’s ruling may well be different,” Olszewski wrote in an 8 page memorandum accompanying his order. “That Atty. Fannick elected not to do so made this Court’s decision clear.”

Fannick said he discussed the matter with Kerekes’ attorneys as well as Menn, Senape and Galante.

It was agreed, Fannick said, that Kerekes’ testimony would provide sufficient evidence that no pertinent information was discussed. Both Kerekes and Cuadra waived any conflicts of interest with Fannick.

“I guess in hindsight we underestimated the need of my testimony,” Fannick said by phone Tuesday. “I really did not believe that I needed to testify.”

Fannick said he is unsure of an appeal on the matter can be made before the case goes to trial, but he will review Olszewski’s decision with Cuadra.

Kerekes’s outburst before a preliminary hearing also affected Olszewski’s decision. The first time Kerekes saw Fannick as Cuadra’s attorney he shouted, “If you try to use anything we spoke about I’ll have you removed,” according to testimony by witnesses.

In making his decision, Olszewski pointed out that appeals would likely follow regardless of the outcome, but he wouldn’t “shirk” from the obligation to make a decision that would “promote and protect the truth seeking function to the judicial system.”

Update: Times Leader (3/20/08 @ 4:48 am) - reports Attorney Demetrius Fannick’s decision not to testify about his meetings with homicide suspect Joseph Kerekes led to the attorney being ousted from representing Kerekes’ co-defendant.

Fannick’s decision, Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said, made it appear Kerekes could have exchanged confidential information with Fannick before the attorney began to defend co-defendant Harlow Cuadra.

“Had (Fannick) testified under oath that no substantive discussions occurred, today’s ruling may well be different,” Olszewski wrote in his order Wednesday. “That (Fannick) elected not to do so made this Court’s decision clear.”

Olszewski, in his ruling, focused on a Kerekes’ outburst and Fannick’s decision not to testify. At a prior hearing, Kerekes shouted at Fannick, after being hired to defend Cuadra, that he didn’t want Fannick to use anything they spoke about in their meetings.

Kerekes later testified the outburst was merely emotional. Olszewski didn’t buy it.

“Emotion may well have been the motivation for the statement, but being overcome by emotion certainly did not result in an untruthful message,” Olszewski wrote.

That, coupled with no testimony from Fannick that the meetings with Kerekes lacked substance, led to Olszewski removing Fannick.

“We find that confidential and privileged information passed from Kerekes to Fannick,” Olszewski said.

And that means Fannick has to protect that information and can not use it any way. That, the judge said, will prevent him from effectively cross-examining Kerekes on Cuadra’s behalf.

Fannick on Thursday said he knew the ruling could go either way. But he’s not going to second-guess “a very brilliant” Olszewski, he said. Fannick is unsure whether the ruling can be appealed prior to trial. If it can, that decision will be up to Cuadra. “He may be anxious to proceed.”

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski has issued his ruling today... Attorney Demetrius Fannick can no longer represent Harlow Cuadra in the upcoming murder trial of Bryan Kocis.

More details to come...

The Times Leader is reporting that a Luzerne County judge has disqualified attorney Demetrius Fannick from defending homicide suspect Harlow Cuadra.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. made the move after prosecutors asked for Fannick to be removed because he had previously met with co-defendant Joseph Kerekes. That, the prosecutors said, created a conflict of interest.

Cuadra will now be represented by attorneys Stephen Menn, Paul Galante, and Michael Senape.

Meanwhile, the Citizen's Voice is reporting that Attorney Demetrius Fannick cannot represent murder suspect Harlow Raymond Cuadra in his capital case, a Luzerne County judge ruled Wednesday.

In a 2-page order and 8-page memorandum, Judge Peter Paul Olsziewski said Fannick can't stay on the case because of objections from Luzerne County prosecutors who say Fannick has a conflict of interest after meeting with Cuadra's codefendant Joseph Kerekes.