The judge in the second Central Park jogger rape trial refused Thursday to let one of the two defendants replace his white attorney with a black activist lawyer.
Justice Thomas Galligan turned down the request of Kevin Richardson, 16, saying he would not delay the trial by replacing attorney Howard Diller with C. Vernon Mason."As far as the court is concerned, you are the attorney for the defendant and you will continue as attorney for the defendant," Galligan told Diller.
Diller told the judge that Richardson's family is refusing to cooperate with him to help in the youth's defense.
"It would be unfair to this defendant to proceed further in the trial because of the family's refusal to cooperate because they have another attorney," he argued.
Richardson's mother, Grace Cuffee, broke down in tears outside the courtroom when she learned of the judge's refusal to replace Diller, whom she fired because she was not pleased with his defense.
Her daughter, Angela Cuffee, told reporters: "We don't have anything to say except that C. Vernon Mason is our lawyer and Howard Diller is not."