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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sansom loses House lawyer, delay in works?

12

January

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against allegations he violated House rules through dealings with a Panhandle college said he has a conflict and can no longer represent the former speaker.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 2:14pm]

    

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