LARGO — Michael Drejka has moved to fire one of his defense attorneys, writing in an affidavit that lawyer Lysa Clifton solicited him in jail the day after his Aug. 13 arrest and refused his request that she withdraw from the case.
The affidavit, signed by Drejka this week, is the latest shake-up for the three-lawyer team defending the man who fatally shot Markeis McGlockton during an argument in a convenience store parking lot.
The Florida Bar opened an investigation into an allegation of solicitation by Clifton after she told reporters she made a cold call visit to Drejka in the Pinellas County Jail in the days after prosecutors charged him with manslaughter.
Clifton told the Tampa Bay Times that she filed a motion to withdraw from the case Thursday afternoon. She declined to comment further.
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.
According to the affidavit, Drejka wrote that he "received an unsolicited personal visit by Lysa Clifton."
"I had never met or spoken to Ms. Clifton or anyone on her behalf before this unsolicited meeting at the jail," he wrote.
He said Clifton asked him if he wanted her to become his attorney.
"I acquiesced," he wrote, "not knowing that solicitation of a client was a possible violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct" for lawyers.
He repeatedly asked her to withdraw from the case, the affidavit states, but she refused.
Drejka’s case grabbed national attention after prosecutors charged him with manslaughter three weeks after he shot and killed a 28-year-old man in a parking lot on July 19. The Pinellas County Sheriff didn’t immediately arrest Drejka, saying he was prevented from doing so by the state’s controversial stand your ground self defense law.
Drejka’s defense team, which also includes lawyers John Trevena and Bryant Camareno, has been mired in controversy since Clifton’s initial visit to the jail. A week after the Bar started its investigation, prosecutor Fred Schaub raised questions in court about the conduct of two of the defense attorneys.
He pointed to a Facebook post by Clifton asking other lawyers for help on the case, saying she "sure ain’t qualified for this s--- show." He also brought a copy of a radio interview in which Camareno questioned why Drejka pulled the trigger when it appeared McGlockton was backing up.
A procedural pre-trial hearing is set for Friday afternoon. Drejka was freed from the Pinellas County jail on Sept. 24 after posting $100,000 bail.
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Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @kathrynvarn.