Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Trial Ordered for South Hills Businessman His Lawyer Fell Asleep at Fraud Proceedings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Trial Ordered for South Hills Businessman His Lawyer Fell Asleep at Fraud Proceedings

Article excerpt

A South Hills businessman convicted of orchestrating the region's biggest mortgage fraud scheme will get a new trial because his lawyer fell asleep during the last one.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose decided Monday that James Nassida's lawyer, Stan Levenson, could not act as an effective attorney because he dozed off during the trial last fall.

Judge Ambrose granted him a motion for a new trial with a new lawyer that she appointed, James Brink.

Based on testimony at a hearing about whether Mr. Levenson's sleeping affected his ability, the judge said, "I can only conclude that attorney Levenson slept, and therefore was not functioning as counsel, during a substantial portion of Mr. Nassida's trial."

She said Mr. Nassida's rights under the Sixth Amendment, guaranteeing a fair trial, had been violated. …

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