By K R Claviger
One of the stranger aspects of the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al case is the fact that most, if not all, of the numerous defense attorneys are being paid out of the same pot of money (At last count, more than two dozen attorneys had already rolled up some billable hours on this case).
Although details have been hard to pin down, it has been widely speculated that just prior to being indicted, Clare Bronfman set up a $10 million trust fund to pay for her legal expenses – and those of her current co-defendants: i.e., Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, and Kathy Russell.
Based on the numerous motions that have already been filed by the defense attorneys in the case – and the multiple meetings that Raniere is having with his defense attorneys every week – it’s quite possible that over half of the legal trust fund has already been used up.
And there’s no sign that the current gaggle of defense attorneys is slowing down in terms of running up their billable hours. Just next week there are two more in-court meetings on the case – and those usually draw just about every member of the defense team plus a slew of their junior associates and paralegals who are just there to take notes and pad their own billable hours.
And don’t forget that there will undoubtedly be even more defense attorneys involved in this case if/when additional defendants are named in a superseding indictment. And assuming, of course, that the legal trust fund has been structured in such a way so as to accommodate more defendants, they’ll be hitting up that same tit as the original defendants.
So, with it appearing less and less likely that the trial is going to take place next March as scheduled – and with the defense attorneys getting more and more creative in terms of their Hail Mary motions – the question becomes “What happens if the legal trust fund runs out of money?”
Well, the answer is – as is so often the case in legal matters – it depends on several factors.
To begin with, the general rule is that a defense attorney in a criminal matter has to have the presiding judge’s permission to withdraw. In situations where one attorney is simply being replaced by another one – or there are multiple attorneys on the defense team and just one of them is withdrawing – getting that permission is no big deal.
But that, of course, is not what we’re looking at in this case.
What if all the defense attorneys in this case simultaneously submit motions to withdraw because the legal trust fund is out of money? Will the judge simply let them ride off into the sunset, laughing their asses off at just how much they made on this case – and how fast they made $10 million disappear?
That’s where those “several factors” come into play.
If this kind of situation were to occur just before the trial was going to start, the judge will very likely require at least some of them to keep working on the case regardless of the fact that they’re no longer getting paid for their work (You can only imagine just how motivated they’ll be).
But if such motions to withdraw were to be filed well before the start of the trial, the judge very well might grant them. It’s entirely up to him.
So, then what?
The simple answer is that each defendant will be likely be assigned a public defender or a federal defender.
And to paraphrase Alanis Morissette, “Wouldn’t that be ironic?”
For those of you who think that Clarebear can just dump in another $10 million to keep the party going, that’s not going to happen. That’s because she was so anxious to protect what she has left from the more than half-a-billion dollars she inherited from dear old Dad, she basically made it impossible for any of her remaining money to be used for that purpose.
And what about sister Sara? Will she be willing to toss in some of her money to protect her sister and the rest of the defendants? Probably not – especially since doing so may very well lead to her getting her own seat at the defense table.
Maybe a GoFundMe fundraiser? I’m sure Ben Meyers and Steve Ose could take care of all the necessary work to set one up.
Or maybe just a bunch of public defenders doing the best they can to keep The Vanguard and his cohorts from going bye-bye…