Conour defender asks off case, cites ‘near adversarial relationship’

A federal public defender representing former attorney William Conour has asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to remove her “due to the near adversarial relationship now existing between attorney and client.”

Conour, who is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence for wire fraud, is seeking his third appeal. Most recently, his sentence was re-imposed on remand from the 7th Circuit in March. Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana lifted a condition of supervised release after Conour serves his time, but otherwise left in place a sentence that includes restitution for three dozen client victims from whom he stole more than $6 million.

Conour represented himself on the most recent appeal, but pauper counsel was appointed as he sought another avenue to challenge his conviction. Thomas Patton and Johanna M. Christiansen, public defenders from the Central District of Illinois, moved to withdraw as Conour’s appellate counsel June 30.

“Since counsel’s appointment in the present appeal, Mr. Conour has repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with counsel’s representation both in the present appeal and the previous two appeals resulting in a serious breakdown of communication and the attorney-client relationship,” the motion to withdraw says. “It has become clear to counsel that Mr. Conour wishes to raise the issue of counsel’s ineffective assistance during the first two appeals as an issue in this successive appeal.”

The motion asks the Circuit Court to appoint new counsel for Conour, whose attorneys have withdrawn from representing him numerous times during the course of his criminal trial and appeals. The motion was filed just a week before the deadline for Conour’s third appeal brief to be filed.  

The 7th Circuit last Friday issued an order suspending briefing in the case and ordered Conour to “personally file, on or before July 15, 2016, a response to his attorneys’ motion to withdraw from handling this appeal from a re-sentencing.”

The case is USA v. William Conour, 16-1698.

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