Los Angeles Times

Mistrial sought in City Hall bribery case

- By David Zahniser and Michael Finnegan

Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan has asked a federal judge to declare a mistrial in his federal corruption case, saying his attorney is no longer medically capable of representi­ng him in the case.

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter declined to grant the request Thursday, saying he can’t make a decision without more specifics on the illness of Chan’s attorney Harland Braun, whose March 2 hospitaliz­ation brought the trial to a halt.

Walter ordered Chan’s legal team to file medical documentat­ion under seal by Sunday and return to court Wednesday to discuss the matter further.

Chan, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, racketeeri­ng, wire fraud and making false statements, said in a court filing that Braun, 80, will be unable to represent him “for at least several months.”

“Attempting to proceed with the trial when Harland Braun is physically unable to participat­e in my defense would be putting me on trial without my lone trial attorney, without the counsel of my choice, and without effective assistance of counsel,” Chan said in a declaratio­n.

Braun has been Chan’s lawyer for about four years. He fell ill just over a week into the trial, prompting the judge to order a three-week delay in witness testimony.

Chan, in his filing, said his other lawyer, Brendan Pratt, has been serving on the defense team only in a “limited support and observatio­nal learning role.” Pratt “has no trial experience, and has never practiced in federal or

state court without supervisio­n,” the filing states.

Pratt lacks the legal expertise to safeguard Chan’s constituti­onal rights, in a case that could result in “decades of imprisonme­nt,” he said.

After Braun fell ill, he was taken to UCLA Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. Braun was suffering from an infection that affected his organs, according to Pratt, and recovery is expected to take at least three months.

In a previous hearing, Walter said he was opposed to a mistrial, suggesting at one point that Pratt familiariz­e himself with the trial exhibits. He also told attorneys he would do everything in his power to keep the case on track.

The prosecutio­n has four witnesses remaining in the case, which is expected to be the last trial stemming from a federal investigat­ion that exposed a City Hall extortion ring run by former L.A. Councilmem­ber Jose Huizar. In January, Huizar pleaded guilty to racketeeri­ng and tax evasion, admitting that he shook down real estate developers for more than $1.5 million in bribes on downtown building projects.

 ?? ?? L.A. Department of Building and Safety RAYMOND CHAN says his attorney is no longer able to represent him.
L.A. Department of Building and Safety RAYMOND CHAN says his attorney is no longer able to represent him.

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