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El Chapo back in Brooklyn court for hearing on potential conflict of interest at trial

September 19, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Joaquin Guzman, better known as El Chapo, will be back in Brooklyn’s federal court on Thursday to discuss potential conflicts of interests involving his attorney. AP Photo
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Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, better known as the alleged drug kingpin El Chapo, is scheduled to be back in Brooklyn’s federal court Thursday, as the parties have requested a Curcio hearing, or a hearing to determine whether a conflict of interest exists regarding representation of the defendant by Jeffrey Lichtman.

Lichtman, who is known for representing John Gotti Jr., the son of Gambino family mobster John Gotti, was hired by El Chapo in August 2017. Gotti Jr.’s case ended in an acquittal of a $25 million securities fraud charge and a deadlocked jury on each of the remaining charges.

El Chapo had been previously represented by public defenders Michael Schneider and Michelle Gelent, with the Federal Defenders of New York.

The two sides also anticipate discussing the trial schedule and the defense has requested that the court discuss its procedure for jury selection, which is expected to be cumbersome, at Thursday’s status conference.

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In court filings, prosecutors said that they are concerned that the defense intends to request another adjournment to the trial and have officially opposed any further adjournments. However, since they expect another adjournment of the trial, prosecutors have asked for a two-day adjournment to its deadline to disclose the identities of its cooperating witnesses.

In previous hearings, defense attorneys have insisted that the timeline for the start of the trial is difficult for them because of the massive number of documents that they must review with their client. They have argued that restrictions imposed on their client at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where El Chapo is being held, slow the process too much.

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