A lawyer for Winifred Jiau, the ex- Primary Global Research LLC consultant serving a four-year prison term for insider trading, sought to be taken off the case after Jiau asked the court to set aside her conviction.
Joanna Hendon, Jiau’s lead defense lawyer at trial, asked U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan today to remove her from the case. Hendon said that Jiau contacted her in August and said she intended to challenge her conviction based on a claim that her attorney was ineffective.
“Among other arguments, Ms. Jiau intends to allege that her counsel at trial and sentencing were constitutionally ineffective,” Hendon wrote to Rakoff. “In my communications with her, Ms. Jiau has made it clear that she no longer wishes to be represented by me.”
Jiau was found guilty by a jury last year of selling inside information about technology companies including Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (MRVL) to hedge-fund managers Noah Freeman, a former SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager, and Samir Barai, founder of New York-based Barai Capital Management LP.
Jiau, who’s serving her term at the federal prison in Dublin, California, today filed her own brief in which she asked for her conviction to be set aside and her sentence to be corrected. She argued that her lawyers didn’t adequately represent her at trial and that her sentence is much longer than the prison terms given to others convicted of insider trading.
Jiau said in her filing that federal prosecutors in her case have “fled out of the prosecution office and hurried to Wall Street law firms for megabucks,” and claimed that her defense lawyers “labored under numerous conflicts of interest” and “advanced their own careers.”
She also said the case has been “a nightmare” for her and claimed that her lawyers failed to investigate Primary Global or the hedge fund managers, such as Freeman, who testified against her.
“Other errors of constitutional proportion occurred at trial,” Jiau said. “Had the defendant been represented by a lawyer who had her interests at stake, it is likely she would not be before this court.”
Jerika Richardson, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on Jiau’s assertions.
Hendon’s firm, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, today called Jiau’s allegations “categorically false.”
“Her attorneys carefully, comprehensively and repeatedly reviewed with her the evidence against her, the defenses available to her, and the likely sentence she would face if convicted,” the firm said in a statement. “The decision to proceed to trial was Ms. Jiau’s. The District Court and the responsible AUSAs have stated publicly that Ms. Jiau received ‘extraordinary’ representation in this case -- the ‘Cadillac’ of defenses.”
At Jiau’s sentencing last September, Rakoff complimented Hendon and her partners for their work on Jiau’s behalf.
On Aug. 7, Rakoff rejected Jiau’s request to be freed from prison while her appeal is pending and said he would no longer accept legal requests Jiau makes without a lawyer’s assistance. The judge wrote that all future motions she submitted herself would be returned unread.
“The evidence presented at trial was more than sufficient for the jury to find Jiau guilty,” Rakoff wrote in his order. “None of Jiau’s other contentions are sufficiently likely to result in reversal, a new trial or a reduced sentence.”
The case is U.S. v. Jiau, 11-cr-161, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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