A New Trial Is Demanded by R. Kelly as a Result of Inexperienced Lawyers and Weak Evidence
The disgraced singer is now taking his former lawyers to task weeks after firing them.
R. Kelly has asked a federal judge to overturn his convictions for sex trafficking and racketeering - by blaming his former legal team.
Kelly's new lawyer filed a motion Thursday alleging that last summer's trial was so unprepared because of well-documented infighting between Kelly's former lawyers that it violated the singer's constitutional right to effective legal counsel. The disgraced singer fired his entire old legal team weeks after news broke that he had fired them all.
“In this complex RICO prosecution, defendant’s legal team fell apart mere weeks before the commencement of trial,” the singer’s new lawyer, Jennifer Ann Bonjean, wrote “Energy, resources, and time that should have been devoted to preparing for trial were expended battling each other until two of defendant’s more experienced attorneys were granted leave to withdraw. Defendant was left with a disjointed, unprepared trial team and no singular defense strategy.”
Bonjean wrote that the inconsistencies with the old legal team were “so serious as to demand a new trial without a showing of prejudice,”
Bonjean also argued in a separate motion on Thursday that the judge should simply acquit Kelly because the government's evidence was not sufficient to support the conviction. Feds "misused" Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is more commonly used against drug cartels and mobsters.
“Invigorated by an influential social movement determined to punish centuries of male misbehavior through symbolic prosecutions of high-profile men, the government brought a RICO prosecution against the defendant that was absurdly remote from the [statute]’s intent,” Bonjean wrote.
“The government constructed a RICO theory of prosecution designed, not to effectuate the purpose of the RICO statute, but to prosecute the defendant for alleged misdeeds going back decades without pesky statutes of limitations obstacles,” she wrote.
As a result of decades of accusations of sexual misconduct, Kelly was convicted on nine counts relating to allegations that he orchestrated a long-running scheme to recruit and abuse women and children, setting the stage for a potential life sentence. Kelly faces a second trial in Chicago federal court in August involving separate charges of obtaining child pornography and obstructing justice.
Kelly's legal team was in turmoil before and after the summer's trial.
Billboard detailed last year that Kelly's legal team was split over strategy and leadership, leading two veteran lawyers, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard, to withdraw before the trial began. Kelly then revealed last month that he had fired the rest of his team, including attorneys Devereaux Cannick, Calvin Scholar, Nicole Blank Becker, and Thomas A. Farinella.
Bonjean, hired in October, is now Kelly's sole defense attorney. Her most notable accomplishment was overturning Bill Cosby's sex assault conviction last summer. Bonjean is likely to file an appeal if the motions are denied on Thursday by the Second Circuit appeals court. Additionally, she will represent Kelly at the Chicago trial.