Judge Appoints New Lawyer for Alleged Madam
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
The woman accused of being the D.C. madam has a new attorney, appointed yesterday by a federal judge.
Preston Burton, a partner in the Washington office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, will represent Deborah Jeane Palfrey against charges that she ran an illegal D.C. prostitution ring in Washington under the guise of an escort business.
Burton was named by Washingtonian magazine in 2004 as one of the capital's leading criminal defense attorneys. Palfrey joins a long list of notable clients who have turned to Burton to defend them. He represented White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky and spies such as CIA agent Aldrich H. Ames, former FBI agent Robert P. Hanssen and former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ana Belen Montes.
Burton takes the reins as the case's legal strategy is becoming increasingly controversial. Critics say Palfrey has mounted a media blitz and is building her defense around the intimidation of potential prosecution witnesses -- clients who fear she will name them publicly.
"I'm taking steps to get up to speed as quickly as possible," said Burton, who will appear at a hearing May 21. "The case has certainly gotten a lot of attention. But I just don't think it's appropriate to comment at this time."
Palfrey said she and her civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, turned over her business telephone records to ABC News because she needs help locating her clients. She wants them to testify that her escorts provided erotic fantasy and massage, which is legal, but not sex, which is illegal.
Palfrey said she is indigent after prosecutors seized most of her assets, and the court agreed to appoint a defense attorney. But Palfrey and public defender A.J. Kramer sparred over the defense strategy, and she asked for another lawyer to be appointed.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said she does not recognize Sibley, a controversial and flamboyant figure in the civil case Palfrey has filed against former escorts, as a legal party in Palfrey's criminal defense. Last week, the judge barred him from entering the well of the court to sit with his client.