LARGO — One of Michael Drejka’s defense attorneys is off the case, ending a bumpy road for the lawyer that started with an investigation into whether she inappropriately persuaded him to hire her.
At a procedural hearing Friday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone accepted Lysa Clifton’s motion to withdraw from the case. Clifton did not attend.
Drejka sat with his two remaining attorneys, John Trevena and Bryant Camareno, wearing slacks and a button-down, one of his loafers held together by duct tape. He told Bulone he was in agreement with Clifton’s removal but did not speak otherwise.
Drejka is facing a manslaughter charge after fatally shooting Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot. The shooting, which was captured on surveillance video, garnered national headlines and reignited a debate over self-defense.
Trevena told Bulone that he had filed an affidavit on Drejka’s behalf saying that Clifton had inappropriately solicited Drejka as a client in jail the day after his Aug. 13 arrest and refused to step down from the case at his request.
The Florida Bar opened an investigation in August after Clifton told reporters she made a cold call visit to Drejka at the jail. That investigation is still ongoing, a Bar spokeswoman said Friday.
Bar rules govern how lawyers can approach potential clients. Directly approaching a client is forbidden, especially in a jail or hospital. Even the mailers lawyers send out to prospective clients must be vetted by the Bar.
Clifton could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. She told the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday that she voluntarily filed the motion to withdraw, which cited "irreconcilable differences."
McGlockton’s family members, including his girlfriend Britany Jacobs, who witnessed the shooting, sat in the galley but did not speak. Bulone set another pre-trial hearing for Dec. 14.
"I don’t anticipate this dragging on and on and on," he said, "and like every case we have we try to do things as expeditiously as possible."