Remember how powerhouse, old-school defense attorney Tony Serra spent half of last year painting Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow as a reformed gangster with no desire but to do good in the community and play with his girlfriend's dogs? Well, now, nearly six months after his conviction on 162 different racketeering, murder, and other criminal charges, and the vow from attorneys Serra, Curtis Briggs, and Tyler Smith that they would be appealing, the three attorneys have filed a request with U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to withdraw as Chow's counsel in the case. They cite "irreconcilable differences," as the Chronicle is reporting, and they wrote in the filing, "The present state of the relationship makes it impossible for the defense team to proceed further on behalf of the defendant."
Chow has apparently agreed to let them off the case.
The filing comes a few days after Judge Breyer rejected their initial motion to appeal last week, in which they argued for a new trial on the basis that the witness list for the defense was unfairly limited while the prosecution was allowed broad ability to call witnesses on topics that were supposed to be off-limits.
According to a statement made by Briggs to the Examiner, the real issue is that they are trial lawyers, and it's time for appellate lawyers to take over. "This is a time when communication just be seamless so as to win the reversal he deserves," Briggs said, "[and] it is time for us to let go and allow appellate lawyers to win his freedom."
Grandly, Briggs also called Chow's case "the most significant case in the history of San Francisco" and he added that his conviction "illustrates how our elite politicians influence the judiciary, the FBI, and the US Attorney."
At issue from early in the case, on which Serra worked for two years, was the fact that the FBI sting that implicated Chow for a range of offenses also ensnared a number of politicians, including several close to the mayor. As a result of the same years-long effort, former state senator Leland Yee got five years in jail, and three other local politicos including former school board president Keith Jackson were indicted on corruption charges in January shortly following Chow's trial. Serra insisted that federal prosecutors only had "shadows of evidence" and called Chow's prosecution "government-created crime."