In the federal suit brought by the Dennis family against the Mt. Vernon school district and John Freshwater, the district’s insurer employed two attorneys to represent the district and1 Freshwater in addition to R. Kelly Hamilton, who is employed by Freshwater himself. Today those attorneys, Robert H. Stoffers and Jason R. Deschler of the law firm Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller Co., L.P.A., filed a request with the court to withdraw as trial attorneys for Freshwater. They say
On April 23, 2010 circumstances arose which prevent Robert H. Stoffers, Jason R. Deschler and Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller, Co., L.P.A. from continuing to represent Defendant Freshwater in the within case in accordance with Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Defendant Freshwater continues to be represented by R. Kelly Hamilton. Attached hereto are the Affidavits of Robert H. Stoffers and Jason R. Deschler which attest to there being good cause, pursuant to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which require them and Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller Co., L.P.A. to withdraw as Trial Attorneys for Defendant Freshwater.
After some identifying information, the identical affidavits say only that
4. On April 23, 2010 I became aware of circumstances which prevent me from continuing to represent Defendant Freshwater in the above-referenced case in accordance with the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.
5. There is good cause, pursuant to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, for me to withdraw from my representation of Defendant Freshwater in the above-referenced case.
I learned of this only a few hours ago, and have not yet found out what those circumstances are.
The federal trial was due to start on May 24, but this will no doubt delay that. We don’t yet know what effect, if any, this will have on the administrative hearing on Freshwater’s termination, which is due to resume April 29.
Added in edit: Hamilton has now requested that the hearing be closed to spectators and media, claiming that potential jurors in the federal trial may be unduly influenced by media coverage of the hearing. PDF of the request (4.6 MB) here. (Hat tip to Accountability in the Media.)
1I’ve since learned that a lawyer named Sara Moore represented the district defendants (BoE and administrators) in the Dennis family’s suit against the district, while Deschler and Stoffers were assigned to represent only Freshwater. So the potential conflict of interest hypothesis advanced below doesn’t hold up.