12:07, May 24 349 0 abajournal.com

2018-05-24 12:07:11
US intends to call Akin Gump lawyer in Manafort trial; lawyers seek to block storage unit evidence

Lawyers for Paul Manfort learned Wednesday that the government plans to call a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to testify in the trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair.

The name of the partner, Melissa Laurenza, had been redacted in court documents, Law360 reports. She reportedly helped Manafort submit forms in which he registered as a foreign agent. Laurenza is not accused of any wrongdoing.

Government lawyers revealed the lawyer’s name during a federal court hearing in Washington, D.C. During the hearing, Manafort’s lawyers sought to exclude evidence seized from Manafort’s storage unit in Alexandria, Virginia. According to Courthouse News Service and Politico, Manafort’s lawyers faced “an uphill battle” as they pressed the argument during the hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

The indictment against Manafort alleges a conspiracy to launder money derived from work for a former Ukrainian president, as well as a failure to report Ukrainian lobbying work.

A federal judge had ruled last year that a lawyer thought to be Laurenza could be compelled to testify to a grand jury under the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client and work-product privileges. The indictment said Manafort and Gates had provided false information to lawyers and other professionals.

Manafort’s lawyers cited a recent Supreme Court decision on rental-car privacy rights to support their argument that Manafort had a right to privacy in the searched storage unit, even though one of his former employees had a key and signed the lease. The National Law Journal covered the argument.

The decision, Byrd v. United States, held that a rental car driver who isn’t listed on the rental agreement generally retains a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment when police seek to search the car.

The former employee had allowed the government to access the storage unit a day before the FBI used a search warrant to search the unit for business records.

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