Dozing lawyer causes mistrial

A US businessman who had been convicted of executing a major mortgage fraud scheme said his lawyer dozed off about 20 times during the trial

Dozing lawyer causes mistrial
A businessman earlier convicted of executing a major mortgage fraud scheme in the US has been granted a new trial because of his lawyer dozing off in court.

US District Judge Donetta Ambrose ruled on Monday that James Nassida’s Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel was violated because his lawyer fell asleep numerous times during the trial, a report from Courthouse News said.

Stanton Levenson, Nassida’s lawyer, admitted falling asleep in court but said this was due to taking cold medicine. He joined Nassida’s mistrial request in April, but Ambrose elected to see what verdict the jury reached.

When the jury returned a guilty verdict, Ambrose asked the jurors under oath about Levenson’s naps. Everyone on the jury panel admitted to seeing the lawyer sleeping or discussing it with each other.

According to the American Bar Association Journal, the jurors differed on the duration and number of times Levenson slept, with some saying the lawyer dozed off for about 30 seconds and others saying the naps lasted a few minutes. A juror said that the lawyer napped four or five times, while others echoed Levenson’s claim that he only dozed off a couple of times.

Nassida said during a post-trial hearing in April that he caught his lawyer sleeping a couple times a day, which means he slept about 20 times during the trial. The Pennsylvania businessman, who is accused of inflating client income and assets to get better commissions from larger mortgage loans granted by various lenders, said he had to nudge the lawyer every time he saw him sleeping.

Related stories:
US Supreme Court hearing interrupted by justice’s cellphone
US court: Commas are essential. Period.

Free newsletter

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter service and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest breaking news, cutting edge opinion, and expert analysis affecting both your business and the industry as whole.

Please enter your email address below and click on Sign Up for daily newsletters from Australasian Lawyer.

Recent articles & video

KHQ Lawyers welcomes two to principal solicitor team in Melbourne

Pitcher Partners appoints one to principal, five to partnership

IBA condemns Hong Kong security law as ‘contrary to the norms of international law’

HSF managing partner embraces innovation and technology in a COVID-19 world

Carter Newell strengthens insurance team with new special counsel

US BigLaw firm cuts associates despite government loan

Most Read Articles

Clayton Utz rings in new financial year with new deputy chief executive partners

$65m equity raising for ASX-listed tech company sees completion with K&L Gates’s help

Baker McKenzie appoints seven to practice and industry leaders in APAC

Mills Oakley welcomes three to partnership in major promotion round