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Published: Tuesday, 9/18/2012

Judge removes lawyer from rape case

BLADE STAFF

A Toledo lawyer was removed from a case representing a man charged with rape after he attempted to undermine the attorney-client privilege of a co-defendant in the case, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge ruled Monday.

Lorin Zaner was disqualified as attorney for Jordan Byrd, who is one of three sibling co-defendants in a case involving allegations of the rape of a minor. Mr. Byrd said he intends to appeal the decision to have Mr. Zaner removed.

Judge Gene Zmuda ruled Monday that Mr. Zaner’s conduct was improper when he engaged in conversations about the case with his client’s co-defendant, James Byrd II, who was represented by a different lawyer. The judge pointed to a recorded conversation between Mr. Zaner and James Byrd as well as Mr. Zaner’s testimony at an Aug. 27 hearing as basis for his decision.

The judge quoted portions of the jail conversation including where he told James Byrd that he doesn’t trust his appointed attorney and that he had spoken to a different lawyer for James Byrd. “I don’t trust this guy and I won’t work well with him,’” the judge quoted Mr. Zaner as saying of attorney David Klucas.

“Such statements can only be construed as undermining the attorney/client privilege between David Klucas and James Byrd. They also reflect the degree to which Mr. Zaner continued to attempt to direct the defense of James Byrd in this case,” the judge wrote. “Read in concert with Mr. Zaner’s testimony at hearing, the court is presented with not a ‘slender reed’ but rather a ‘sturdy oak’ of actions and statements by Mr. Zaner demonstrating a disregard to maintaining the integrity of these court proceedings which this court has the inherent power to protect.”

Jordan Byrd’s case has been put on hold pending the filing of the appeal in the 6th District Court of Appeals. His co-defendants, James Byrd and Larrissa James have a Friday court date.



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