R. Kelly: New York judge orders hearing to determine potential attorney conflicts

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U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly has ordered a rare hearing to determine whether R&B star R. Kelly’s attorneys have conflicts of interest.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Fox News previously confirmed that two of the singer’s attorneys requested to withdraw themselves from counsel.

Mike Leonard and Steven Greenberg sent a letter to Donnelly just days ago, claiming that they believe it “impossible” to “continue to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances.”

Kelly’s trial in New York is set to begin in August.

Earlier this week, Kelly, 54, told a judge in a hearing held by telephone that he wished to terminate the attorneys. His remaining attorneys, Thomas Farinella, Douglas Anton and Nicole Becker told Fox News that Leonard and Greenberg were in fact terminated, though the two disputed the claim.

A Curcio hearing has been ordered for two of R. Kelly’s attorneys to determine whether they have conflicts of interest. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool,)

According to the outlet, information about Farinella and Becker’s backgrounds has surfaced and has prompted Donnelly to call for a Curcio hearing, where information about an attorney’s potential conflicts of interest is presented so that an informed decision can be made about representation.

The hearing will be held in Donnelly’s courtroom, but it’s unclear whether Kelly will be present. She recently suggested he be transferred from Chicago to New York ahead of his August trial.

The potential conflicts of interest are also unclear, according to the Tribune, as filings are sealed.

In statements given to the Chicago Sun-Times, Leonard and Greenberg expressed concern over Farinella and Becker’s lack of experience trying federal criminal cases.

Citing records, the Tribune reports that Farinella previously had his law license suspended over 10 years ago after allegedly making improper charges to a client’s credit card and neglecting “numerous client matters.”

At the time, the attorney argued that it was impossible to defend himself against the accusations due to “mental infirmity.” His psychiatrist testified that Farinella “shuts down during stressful situations he is not able to adequately contribute to his defense or other legal processes.”

R. Kelly is set to head to court on Aug. 9.
(AP, File)

Greenberg, Anton, Farinella and Becker did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Leonard declined to comment.

Kelly was arrested in 2019 and is being tried on racketeering charges alleging he ran a criminal enterprise to commit sex crimes against women and underage girls.

Jury questionnaires will be sent out to a pool of hundreds of potential jurors next month.

Kelly will also be tried in Chicago’s federal court in September where he faces multiple sex abuse-related counts, including allegedly conspiring to rig his child pornography trial in 2008 by paying off witnesses and victims.

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