Two lead attorneys representing R. Kelly in his federal New York case have asked to be removed from his legal team, WLS-TV reports. Chicago-based lawyers Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard wrote a letter to a federal judge on Monday (June 7) asking to be withdrawn from the case.
“Our reasons for withdrawal are significant and it is impossible, in our belief, for us to be able to continue to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances,” Greenberg wrote to U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly. However, the attorneys wrote that they “are willing to [serve] as effective stand-by counsel” if required by the court.
According to a statement obtained by TMZ, Greenberg and Leonard asked to be removed after having disagreements with other members of Kelly’s legal counsel.
“We refuse to try a case with lawyers who don’t have the appropriate level of experience and skill because that is not in the client’s best interest,” they said. “It is a shame that lawyers can’t suppress their own egos or self-interest and do or act in the client’s best interest.”
“Ultimately, as trial lawyers and in the interests of the client, we weren’t comfortable professionally with allowing lawyers who have never tried federal criminal cases to have significant trial responsibilities,” Greenberg said. “That approach was not to everyone’s liking.”
On Twitter, he added, “Sometimes people just won’t listen and there is nothing you can do.”
In a statement to CNN, Tom Farinella and Nicole Becker — two attorneys still on Kelly’s legal team — said Greenberg and Leonard were fired prior to their request to be removed.
“The only comment we have at this time is that Mr. Kelly terminated both lawyers prior to filing their motion,” they said. Judge Donnelly will reportedly respond to the request tomorrow (June 9).
The news arrives as Kelly is heading to trial for federal sex trafficking charges in Brooklyn later this summer. The embattled singer is charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, forced labor, kidnapping, enticement and bribery, and is also facing separate charges in Chicago and Minnesota. He’s set to go to trial in New York for his federal case on Aug. 9. See Greenberg’s tweet below.