Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan has asked a federal judge to declare a mistrial in his federal corruption case, saying his lawyer is no longer medically capable of representing him in the case.
US District Judge John F. Walter declined to grant the request Thursday, saying he cannot make a decision without more details about the illness of Chan’s lawyer, Harland Braun, whose March 2 hospitalization halted the trial.
Walter ordered Chan’s legal team to submit the sealed medical documentation by Sunday and return to court on Wednesday to discuss the matter further.
Chan, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, extortion, wire fraud and false statements, said in a court filing that Braun, 80, will not be able to represent him “for at least several months.”
“To attempt to proceed to trial when Harland Braun is physically unable to participate in my defense would be to put me on trial without my sole trial attorney, without counsel of my choice, and without the effective assistance of counsel,” Chan said in a statement. .
Braun has been Chan’s attorney for about four years. He fell ill just over a week after the trial, prompting the judge to order a three-week delay in witness testimony.
Chan, in his filing, said his other attorney, Brendan Pratt, has been serving on the defense team only in a “limited support and shadow learning role.” Pratt “has no trial experience and has never practiced in federal or state court without supervision,” Chan wrote.
Pratt lacks the legal expertise to safeguard Chan’s constitutional rights, in a case that could result in “decades in prison,” he said.
After Braun became ill, he was taken to the UCLA Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. Braun was suffering from an infection affecting his organs, according to another Chan lawyer, and recovery is expected to take at least three months.
At an earlier hearing, Walter said he was opposed to a mistrial, suggesting at one point that Pratt familiarize himself with the trial evidence. He also told the lawyers that he would do everything possible to keep the case on track.
The prosecution has four remaining witnesses in the case, which is expected to be the final trial stemming from a federal investigation that exposed a City Hall extortion ring led by former Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar.
In January, Huizar pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax evasion, admitting to extorting more than $1.5 million in bribes from real estate developers on downtown construction projects.