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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sansom loses House lawyer, delay in works?



The lawyer defending Ray Sansom against allegations he violated House rules through dealings with a Panhandle college said he has a conflict and can no longer represent the former speaker.

Richard Coates, who had indicated he was withdrawing in a recent letter, formally removed himself this week (notice here). He said he has a conflict because he has represented some of the witnesses he would need to call had he put on a defense. The witnesses were not named but Coates is the go-to lawyer for top Republicans.

What's more, Sansom's criminal defense lawyer, Steve Dobson, wrote a letter to the House panel saying he would not be taking over for Coates. Dobson asked for a delay until Sansom can find new counsel and also because Sansom faces new charges in the criminal case.

It adds up to a likely delay for a hearing that was to begin Jan. 25. The five-member House panel will meet Thursday for an update. Coates was involved in talks about a settlement but nothing came of it, according to people close to the discussion.

Background: An independent investigator found probable cause Sansom damaged public "faith and confidence" in the House. Sansom has declared his innocence.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:14pm]


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