Citing "unexplained hostility" by the judge in his criminal case, accused fraudster Allen Stanford is asking for a new judge.
Stanford, indicted on 21 felony counts in an alleged $8 billion Ponzi scheme, has had a run of rulings against him by U.S. District Judge David Hittner. Hittner has revoked Stanford's bail, refused to move him to a jail closer to Houston, and denied his request to hire new attorneys.
Now, those attorneys are petitioning the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to remove Hittner from the case and reassign it to U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore in Houston, who presided over an earlier Stanford case.
The petition centers on Hittner's ruling last week barring Houston attorney Michael Sydow from appearing for Stanford, and ordering that Sydow have "no further involvement" in the case.
Sydow had hoped to appear along with Washington attorney Robert Luskin to argue for the release of some of Stanford's funds to pay for a defense. But Hittner ruled that because Sydow had not received prior approval to appear, he should be barred from the case for good.
The petition says Hittner is denying Stanford's Constitutional right to the attorney of his choice, and Hittner should be removed from the case.
It's not the first time Stanford's attorneys have gone to the Court of Appeals over Hittner's rulings. Still pending is an appeal of Hittner's decision to revoke Stanford's bail, which his attorneys claim also violates his Constitutional rights.
Stanford has been in custody non-stop since the day he was indicted, June 18.