Attorneys for RICO defendant argue appearance of impropriety
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)– Attorneys for one of the RICO defendants say there could be an appearance of impropriety in the DA’s office.
Courtney High sat in court Monday morning as his lawyers made their argument in front of the judge.
High is one of the men who could face the death penalty in Bianca Horton’s murder.
Horton was set to testify in Cortez Sims murder trial. A jury ended up convicting him.
Sim’s lawyer in that case, Lee Ortwein, now works for the DA’s office.
“In a case of this magnitude that is so great that a more cautious approach would be to disqualify an entire office,” High’s lawyer said.
High’s lawyers argue impunted disqualification must occur because of the appearance of impropriety.
“I think if a person unconnected to the case was to hear Mr. High sitting here and Mr. Sims is sitting here and the person that represented him in a case where he is accused of murdering that person before they could testify against him is working in this office. Can you be absolutely certain that nothing occurred? High’s lawyer asked.
“The position of our office is does Mr. Ortwein have a conflict as regard to this case, without a question. Has he participated in any of this prosecution? The answer to that would be no and I think it noteworthy too that the majority of this investigation and the return of the indictment and the superseding presentment occurred long before Mr. Ortwein was ever in the district attorney’s office.”
District Attorney Neal Pinkston says it is concerning they are being accused of unethical behavior with no evidence.
“Are we at a point where in the practice of law or how we deal with these cases that we can accuse someone of unethical conduct? Mr. Ortwein, myself, the entirety of the DA’s office without any proof of that,” Pinkston said.
The judge will now take this under advisement.
RICO defendants will appear in court next at the end of January.
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