A new attorney for disgraced R&B singer Robert “R.” Kelly wants his client’s impending trial delayed due to a confluence of factors stemming from recent changes to the defense team.
“We write to request a delay in the commencement of Robert Kelly’s trial,” Deveraux L. Cannick wrote in a Monday letter motion to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. “While he is anxious to move forward and address the charges against him, it is my considered view that given my limited access to him as well as circumstances of his detention, I simply do not have enough time to adequately meet with him and also digest the massive discovery.”
Cannick cites ongoing COVID-19 mitigation measures at the Brooklyn lockup where his client currently resides under a 14-day quarantine that began late last month.
“To adequately prepare to confront Robert Kelly’s accusers, I must have access to Mr. Kelly,” the motion continues. “Given his quarantine status, it has not been possible for us to meet. Robert will be in quarantine for 14 days from the date of his arrival at MDC, Brooklyn.”
That quarantine regime is nearly over, but the defense argues that the facilities at the Metropolitan Detention Center are crowded and not necessarily conducive to preparing a vigorous defense.
“[W]hen he is out of quarantine, MDC has very limited conference rooms for us to meet,” Cannick says. “If a room is not available, then we must meet at a table along with other attorneys and their respective clients. The nature of the evidence here does not lend itself to open frank discussions in such an environment.”
The apparently cramped state of the defense, however, is also something of a self-inflicted wound. Kelly made headlines when he jettisoned two members of his long-serving criminal defense team in early June — with his long-awaited trial fast approaching and scheduled to begin on August 9, 2021.
Cannick admitted that he understood the risks of joining the team so close to trial but candidly tells the court that he underestimated the scope of the work.
“Before agreeing to joining Mr. Kelly’s defense team, I was aware of the trial date,” the motion continues. “Although, I thought that that it would take a herculean effort to get up to speed, I thought it would be possible to do so. However, with Mr. Kelly not being available and the limited access that would be available to effectively meet with him, we would not have enough time to have meaningful preparation for an August 9th trial date.”
Invoking constitutional standards for criminal defendants, the defense appears to be making an effort to persuade District Judge Ann M. Donnelly that not acceding to the delay request could provide procedural grounds for appealing an unfavorable result.
“The charges here are serious,” the motion notes. “The consequences are dire. Mr. Kelly not only has a right to an attorney of his choosing but also the right to effective and meaningful representation. The aforementioned circumstances deny him those rights.”
“Therefore, we respectfully request an adjournment of the trial date so that he can adequately prepare and assist in his defense,” the motion concludes. “My request is not by any means a dilatory tactic. As I mentioned previously, Robert is anxious to have his day in court; however not at the expense of his Sixth Amendment rights. In the interest and fair play, Robert Kelly respectfully request that his trial date be postponed.”
[image via Antonio Perez – Pool via Getty Images]
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