St. Clair County chief public defender John O’Gara removed Charles Baricevic as counsel for murder suspect William Cosby and replaced him with Justin Kuehn.
Kuehn and Lloyd Cueto will represent Cosby at a trial Circuit Judge Robert Haida has set to start on Sept. 8.
Cosby had pleaded from county jail for Baricevic to withdraw.
Jurors convicted Cosby last year in the court of former judge Michael Cook, but Haida granted a new trial due to Cook’s heroin addiction.
O’Gara said Kuehn called him and asked to represent Cosby.
“Justin has had a relationship with the family,” O'Gara said.
“An enthusiastic lawyer is a force to reckon with.”
Baricevic, son of Chief Judge John Baricevic, represented Cosby at trial before Cook.
After jurors convicted Cosby, Baricevic moved for a new trial.
In June of last year, after Cook’s arrest, Cosby filed a motion from jail asking for a different lawyer.
He wrote that Baricevic refused to amend his motion for a new trial to allege that Cook’s addiction deprived him of a fair trial.
Baricevic amended the motion as Cosby wished, and Haida granted a new trial.
Cosby moved again for a new lawyer last December, writing that he wanted to argue self defense but Baricevic wouldn’t let him.
O’Gara then assigned Cueto as Baricevic’s assistant, and Cueto filed a notice of intent to plead self defense.
Haida set trial to start in April, but delayed it at the request of both sides.
On Aug. 6, Cosby moved to withdraw Baricevic.
He wrote that Baricevic “expressed hate for the family of the defense and refuses to get past this and work with family witnesses and others that have relevant testimony to offer.”
Cosby wrote that the delay in the trial was solely for the benefit of the prosecution.
He wrote that that he had been in jail more than 820 days, “and it is mentally harsh.”
He asked, “That this court allow Cueto to assume lead counsel duty and Baricevic to exit.”
It happened that way, not through Haida but through O’Gara.
O'Gara said he usually doesn’t reassign cases at the request of defendants.
“Sometimes they don’t like what they hear from their lawyer, so they want a new one,” he said.
“Or they hear that someone they know won a case, and they want the lawyer that won it.
“Barring an obvious reason, I won’t reassign.
“Here, Justin called and said, ‘I talked to them and I’ll help Lloyd.’”