Judge William Jackson today prohibited D.C.’s public defender service from representing Terry Jimenez, one of three men accused in the shooting death of Robert Foster Jr. following the Caribbean Festival in Northwest D.C. last month.
PDS has represented one of Jimenez’ codefendants in the case, a rival gang member, for about five years and Jackson said there were no steps that could be taken to ensure that there wasn’t a conflict of interest, or appearance of any conflict.
Jackson said that based on the government’s evidence in the case, it’s likely that defense attorneys for Jimenez and Terrance Bush will “invariably point the finger at the other guy.”
Bush’s previous interactions with PDS mean that multiple attorneys and staff members in that agency have extensive knowledge of Bush and, even if a “Chinese Wall” were established between attorneys that knew Bush and those who did not, there could be the impression that Jimenez’ defense was playing with insider information, Jackson said.
His ruling was in response to a motion by government prosecutors and was strongly objected by representatives of PDS over two hours of hearings Monday and Tuesday.
PDS authorities warned that after three weeks of intensive investigations “a great deal of harm” would come from withdrawing from Jimenez’ case.
Attorneys Mary Kennedy (of law firm Arnold and Porter LLP) and James Thomas took over the case following Jackson’s ruling.
Preliminary hearings for all three men accused in the case are likely to be postponed to the end of next week.
Jimenez was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday, but the matter of his representation delayed it. Jackson rescheduled it for July 28 at 2 p.m.
Bush and Deonte Bryant are expected in court briefly Monday, at which time Jackson expects to reschedule their hearing for July 29.
Though all three men are codefendants, Jackson scheduled their hearings on separate days for “security reasons.”
Jimenez is a member of a gang that rivals one that Bush and Bryant belong to, and according to court documents a beef between the two gangs led to the post-festival shootout that killed Foster.