A federal judge is letting Teddy Mitchell keep his lead defense attorney even though the attorney's father will be a prosecution witness.
Mitchell is accused in an 81-count indictment of hosting illegal high-stakes poker games at his Oklahoma City home and of illegally taking bets on sporting events. Investigators contend he personally made millions of dollars from the operation.
Mitchell is represented by Scott Adams, a well-known Oklahoma City attorney.
U.S. District Judge David Russell ruled Thursday that Adams can remain on the case. The judge ruled after talking to Mitchell at length about the potential problems that could come up at trial.
“I've hired him. I'd like to stick with him,” Mitchell, 57, told the judge at the hearing in Oklahoma City federal court.
Mitchell also told the judge his attorney's father, Richard Adams, is a friend who will tell the truth “and do what he has to do.”
Prosecutors last Friday notified the judge of the potential conflict. They asked the judge to consider disqualifying Scott Adams from the case.
Prosecutors told the judge in their notice that Richard Adams was a frequent participant in the high-stakes poker games at Mitchell's house. They also told the judge he placed bets with Mitchell on sporting events and has known Mitchell as a “bookie” for about 25 years.
Prosecutors questioned how Scott Adams could cross-examine his father. They suggested the problem remains even if another defense attorney handles the questioning.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Altshuler said at the hearing Thursday that the testimony from Richard Adams will destroy Mitchell's defense.
Altshuler said he intends to let jurors know the witness is the attorney's father. He said that information will enhance the credibility of the witness with the jury.
The judge said he will take up later the issue of whether jurors can be told of the relationship.
After the hearing, Scott Adams told news reporters that Mitchell is “looking forward to getting in front of a jury ... getting acquitted and getting this nightmare behind him.”
The attorney also said Mitchell is hopeful that the gambling case may somehow help identify who killed his wife.
Julie Mitchell, 34, was beaten to death in the couple's northwest Oklahoma City home on Nov. 2, 2010. Oklahoma City police are investigating the homicide.
Scott Adams said, “I would like to remind everyone that there's a $50,000 reward out there” for information about Julie Mitchell's death.
“If any of this helps bring those people forward, that's all we're begging for at this point,” the attorney said.
A federal grand jury last month indicted Mitchell, two of his sons, six other men and a Costa Rican company. The grand jury alleged the illegal gambling took in at least $8.1 million.
Mitchell contends he is a professional gambler who acted legally. He is on home detention while awaiting trial.