"Former Skakel Lawyer Appealing Subpoena"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time
A former attorney for Martha Moxley murder suspect Michael Skakel has appealed a
New York judge's order that he appear before the Connecticut grand jury
investigating the Greenwich teenager's 1975 slaying.
The appeal, filed Jan. 11 by New York City attorney Thomas Sheridan Jr., seeks
to overturn a Manhattan judge's ruling that Sheridan comply with the subpoena
that had been issued by prosecutors in Connecticut.
Sheridan and his attorney, Norman Bloch, both refused comment yesterday.
In his Dec. 18 ruling, New York Supreme Court Judge Herbert Adlerberg noted that
Sheridan's testimony is being sought by a Connecticut prosecutor to challenge
defense attorneys' claims that information pertaining to the Moxley case -
obtained by private detectives while working for Sheridan - is privileged and
cannot be put before the grand jury.
"Any claim regarding a violation of the attorney-client privilege, if indeed
there is one, is to be litigated in the demanding state, which has been held by
the Court of Appeals to be the appropriate forum to adjudicate such claims,"
Adlerberg ruled. "Accordingly, Thomas Sheridan is directed to appear and testify
before the grand jury."
Although Adlerberg set Sheridan's grand jury appearance for Jan. 8, he also
granted a 30-day stay on his own order to allow Sheridan time to file an appeal.
Grand jury testimony of investigators with Jericho, N.Y.-based Sutton Associates
is being sought, according to an affidavit filed in Nassau County Court by
Connecticut State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, because of possibly
incriminating information they obtained while working for Sheridan and another
attorney representing Michael Skakel's brother, Thomas, who is also a suspect.
In the affidavit, Benedict alleges that both Skakel brothers significantly
changed the alibis they had given police in 1975 when they were questioned 18
years later by Sutton Associates investigators.
According to the affidavit, the revised stories placed the suspects either with
Moxley or near the crime scene at about the time police said the 15-year-old
girl was murdered with a golf club owned by the Skakel family.
The suspects' father, Rushton Skakel Sr., is a brother of Ethel Skakel Kennedy,
widow of U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Sheridan has said he represented Michael Skakel from 1976 until shortly after
the Moxley grand jury was convened in June 1998. Stamford defense attorney
Michael Sherman has represented Skakel since then.
Sheridan previously explained that he hired Sutton Associates in 1992 to
investigate the Moxley murder and his client's possible involvement as
preparation for a possible criminal defense. The following year, the agency was
retained for the same purpose by Stamford attorney Emanuel Margolis, who has
represented Thomas Skakel since 1976.
James Murphy, who owns Sutton Associates, and Willis Krebs, Murphy's former
employee, both were subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury. An attorney
representing Murphy and both Skakel brothers earlier this month successfully
blocked the subpoena, with Nassau County Judge Jerald Carter ruling that
Benedict failed to prove Murphy was a necessary and material witness. A hearing
on an objection to Krebs' subpoena is pending in Suffolk County Court.
Since the grand jury was convened last summer, Michael Skakel apparently has
emerged as the prime suspect. Among the witnesses to have appeared in the
closed-door probe are former residents and staff members of a drug and alcohol
abuse rehabilitation center where prosecutors allege that Michael Skakel made
statements about the murder.