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Lead defense lawyer withdraws from Moussaoui case

[JURIST] Frank Dunham [profile], the public defender appointed to head the defense for Zacarias Moussaoui [case docket], has withdrawn from the case and will not be part of the legal team working to save Moussaoui from a death sentence. Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges [JURIST report] last month for his involvement in the 9/11 terror plot, filed a handwritten motion [PDF] Tuesday asking US District Judge Leonie Brinkema to remove Dunham and another attorney from the case. Brinkema denied the motion [order, PDF], saying there was no basis for Moussaoui's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Brinkema wrote that "The difficulties faced by defense counsel have stemmed largely from defendant's unwillingness to cooperate with them." Brinkema noted, however, that "the concerns expressed by defendant may be partly mooted by Mr. Dunham's recent withdrawal from the case, which now requires expertise in issues regarding the penalty, not the guilt, phase." No further reason has been given for Dunham's withdrawal. Reuters has more.

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