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R. Kelly told a judge Wednesday that he’s fired half of his legal team ahead of his trial next month in Brooklyn on sex abuse charges.
The disgraced “I Believe I Can Fly” singer said during a Brooklyn federal court telephone hearing that he wanted to part ways with two of his four criminal defense lawyers — Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard.
Judge Ann Donnelly asked Kelly to confirm his decision: “Is that what your wish is?”
“Absolutely, yes ma’am, your honor,” said the 54-year-old R&B star, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
Greenberg cryptically alleged during the hearing that someone on the defense team had “documented mental health issues” and “can’t deal with stress.” Donnelly ordered Greenberg and Leonard to file papers in the case further elaborating on the reason for their departures.
On Monday, Greenberg and Leonard filed papers asking to be let off the case over a clash with Kelly’s two other lawyers, Thomas Farinella and Nicole Becker, TMZ reported.
“We refused to try a case with lawyers who don’t have the appropriate level of experience and skill because that is not in the client’s best interest,” Greenberg and Leonard told the outlet. “It is a shame that lawyers can’t suppress their own egos or self interest and do or act in the client’s best interest.”
But Farinella and Becker told TMZ, “The only comment we have at this time is that Mr. Kelly terminated both lawyers prior to filing their motion.”
The three-time Grammy winner will face trial in Brooklyn on Aug. 9 on charges of sex trafficking and racketeering for allegedly running a scheme to recruit underage girls to engage in sex acts with him.
Farinella and Becker told the judge they would continue prepping for that date as Donnelly said she would not postpone the trial any further.
The trial was originally slated for May 2020 but was repeatedly delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelly also faces criminal cases in Chicago and in Minnesota on additional sexual misconduct charges.
He has pleaded not guilty in all of the cases and has been in jail for almost two years awaiting trial.
With Post wires
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