Judge Dismisses Lawyer From Chow Case

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge dismissed one of the lead attorneys who defended Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow at his recent murder and racketeering trial, after a closed hearing where he spoke with Chow for an hour.
     All three of Chow’s attorneys Curtis Briggs, J. Tony Serra and Tyler Smith had moved earlier this month to withdraw from the case, citing “irreconcilable differences” in their filing. “The present state of the relationship makes it impossible for the defense team to proceed further on behalf of the defendant,” they wrote, noting that Chow agreed to the withdrawal.
     U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer sealed the courtroom for the hearing late Friday, but allowed the government and public back in for his ruling, where he allowed Briggs to withdraw. Breyer said the conversation with Chow, who appeared before him in a red prison jumpsuit, “will be kept under seal as they reflect confidential communications and issues of representation by the defendant.”
     Chow’s legal team stood in the hallway with federal prosecutors for most of the hearing, but were intermittently invited back into the courtroom. Briggs said he could not comment on what the irreconcilable differences were.
     Speaking to reporters after Breyer’s ruling, Serra also said he couldn’t divulge details about the dispute. “Those differences will never be proclaimed publicly,” he said. “The judge ruled that two lawyers don’t have irreconcilable differences and one does. That’s as far as I can go.”
     Serra said he and Smith will continue representing Chow, noting that there are “at least two or three pending motions,” including one for a new trial. “I have a hunch we’ll be around for sentencing,” he said.
     Serra added that the dispute isn’t personal, and that he hugged Chow before Breyer cleared the courtroom. “We embraced. We had affectionate colloquy,” Serra said. “All three of us are not abandoning him. All three of us have love and respect for him. All three of us continue to believe he is innocent.” After a trial that lasted nearly two months, Chow was convicted in January of 162 criminal counts, including murder and racketeering. He faces life in prison.

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