United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
PATRICIA L. COHEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Government's Motion for
Inquiry into Potential for Conflict of Interest [Doc. 61].
The motion raises concerns about a potential conflict in
attorney Beau Brindley's representation of Defendant Roy
Burris. The Court held a hearing and the Government and
Defendant appeared and argued their respective positions. In
addition, Mr. Brindley provided information about his
relationship with Defendant, as well as Michael Grady, who
was, at the time of the hearing, Defendant's
Government charged Defendant with a violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) (conspiracy to distribute and possess with
intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine). In the
initial indictment, Defendant had two co-defendants, Oscar
Dillon and Michael Grady. Defendants Grady and Dillon are
also co-defendants, along with a number of other individuals,
including Derrick Terry, in a different criminal case pending
in the Eastern District of Missouri, United States v.
Velasquez, No. 4:15CR00404.
Velasquez matter, Mr. Brindley entered his
appearance on behalf of Mr. Terry. The Government sought an
inquiry into a potential conflict posed by Mr. Brindley's
representation of Mr. Terry as a result of an alleged prior
business relationship between Mr. Terry's co-defendant
Mr. Grady and Mr. Brindley. The court held a hearing and
concluded that because “Grady may have been involved in
Terry's decision to retain Brindley, the court finds that
there is a serious potential for conflict in this matter that
requires substitution of counsel for Brindley on behalf of
Defendant Derrick Terry.” In a subsequent related
order, the court found that “Brindley has had a
professional relationship with Grady for a number of years,
” and Mr. Grady, “who represents that he is a
paralegal, has referred clients to Brindley and they have
worked together on those cases with Grady performing
investigative services.” The court concluded that
“there is a significant risk that Brindley's
long-term pecuniary interests lie with Grady, with whom he
has a long-standing, continuing professional
relationship.” Finally, the court determined that
“a waiver would not adequately protect Defendant's
interests, the ‘integrity of the judicial proceeding,
' and ‘public confidence in the legal
profession'….” In Velasquez, Mr.
Terry declined to execute a waiver of conflict.
Government asserts that the concerns identified in
Velasquez with respect to the prior financial
relationship between Mr. Grady and Mr. Brindley are present
in this case and that the “Court should exercise its
discretion to refuse a waiver of conflict, should Defendant
Burris waive any conflict in this matter.” To support
its position, the Government relies on the Court's
determination in the Velasquez matter as well as
jail recordings of Mr. Burris that were created while
Defendant was incarcerated in California.
counsel asserts that the conflict at issue in this case is
different than in Velasquez because the Government
has dismissed Mr. Grady from this case and therefore the
conflict is “speculative and theoretical.”
Moreover, counsel argues that Defendant has been advised of
the conflict and has waived the conflict in writing.
jail tape recordings
November 2016, Defendant, a female acquaintance and Mr. Grady
were recorded on a three-way conversation referencing Mr.
Brindley. In December 2016, Defendant stated in a recorded
conversation that he “got in contact with Beau was
(sic) through Grady.” Other December conversations
between Defendant and the female acquaintance suggest that
Defendant provided Mr. Grady money to pay Mr. Brindley. Yet
another conversation, between Defendant and his mother,
substantiates that Mr. Grady was supposed to pay Mr. Brindley
money on Defendant's behalf.
Brindley acknowledged at the hearing that he has a
relationship with Defendant Grady. He described his
relationship as follows: “…basically amounted to
Mr. Grady referring a handful of cases, four to five cases. I
would estimate….” Mr. Brindley stated that Mr.
Grady never worked for him and Mr. Brindley never paid Mr.
Grady. However, Mr. Grady worked for some of Mr.
Brindley's clients, including, Mr. Terry, the
respect to Defendant, Mr. Brindley stated that “Mr.
Burris retained me to represent him here in the Eastern
District of Missouri without any involvement of Mr.
Grady.” At the time Defendant retained Mr. Brindley for
this case, Mr. Brindley “had been representing Mr.
Burris for a significant period of time on multiple
issues.” Mr. Brindley has not denied that Mr. Grady
connected Defendant and Mr. Brindley: “No one has ever
stated that Mr. Grady did not recommend the undersigned to
Defendant at some point.”