Chicago Attorney on Trial for Illegally Coaching Witnesses

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 25, 2015 9:52 AM

A Chicago defense attorney has found himself on trial last week, facing allegations that he illegally coached witnesses to lie on the stand. Defense attorney Beau Brindley is accused of a host of violations, from scripting witness answers to making illegal fee arraignments and interfering with grand jury investigations.

Brindley was considered an "up-and-coming" criminal defense attorney, according to the Chicago Tribune. But he doesn't seem to have been very good at his own criminality. An FBI raid on his law firm last year turned up a trove of written evidence of Brindley's alleged wrongdoing, including emails outlining the exact answers witnesses should give on the stand. Brindley's trial is particularly bizarre, since its taking place in the Chicago courthouse where Brindley still regularly represents criminal defendants.

The Perfect Crime, If Only It Wasn't for the Extensive Paper Trail...

Brindley stands accused of a host of criminal violations related to his practice over the past seven years. His partner, Michael Thompson, is also accused of conspiring with Brindley to break the law. The strongest accusations against Brindley include claims that he attempted to fix trials with staged witnesses. For example, in one email, Brindley instructed an associate to "go over the scripted questions and answers" with a client during witness prep, according to the Tribune.

Illegally coaching witnesses wasn't Brindley's only alleged crime, however. One client, now cooperating with prosecutors, claims that he was to pay Brindley $150,000 for an acquittal. Contingency fees for criminal defendants are widely prohibited under the theory that they encourage lawyers to... suborn perjury

Then there are the clients Brindley just pretended to represent. According to the indictment, Brindley and his partner claimed to represent a witness who had been called to testify before a grand jury investigation. That witness would plead the Fifth, they told prosecutors in writing, so there was no point to calling her. Of course, it turned out that Brindley and Thompson never represented the woman they claimed to speak for.

Not His First Flirtation With Disbarment

Brindley isn't taking the charges lying down. Three former clients are cooperating with prosecutors -- from the same jail. Brindley claims that the stool pidgeons are simply looking for reduced sentences and have met in jail to coordinate their testimony. He's currently attempting to get security footage from the jail which he says will show just that.

Over a decade of practice, Brindley had gained a reputation as a fierce advocate with "sometimes-offbeat arguments," the Tribune notes, though judges had questioned his honesty. Indeed, as we reported in 2014, Brindley was subject to a biting benchslap from Judge Easterbrook, who sanctioned him and threatened him with disbarment should he engage in "further deceit." If the indictment against Brindley is to be believed, Easterbrook's warning didn't exactly stick.

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