R. Kelly is to face trial in federal court in New York this August for allegedly abusing various women and girls over 25 years. But whether the trial will go ahead is now unclear, with a report suggesting the singer has fired his two lead attorneys. In a statement to Fox News, Kelly's remaining attorneys—Douglas Anton, Thomas Farinella, and Nicole Becker—say Kelly fired Chicago-based defense attorneys Steven Greenberg and Michael Leonard before they asked US District Judge Ann Donnelly for permission to withdraw from the case on Monday. Greenberg and Leonard deny they were fired, but they do acknowledge a disagreement over their plan to grant "significant trial responsibilities" only to lawyers with experience in trying federal criminal cases, per the Chicago Sun-Times.
Farinella and Becker don't have that experience, per TMZ. "It is a shame that lawyers can't suppress their own egos or self-interest and do or act in the client's best interest," Greenberg and Leonard tell the outlet. In asking to be withdrawn from the case, Greenberg wrote that "it is impossible, in our belief, for us to be able to continue to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances," though he did say the pair would serve "as effective stand-by counsel." It's unclear whether this might delay Kelly's federal trial—covering racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, and forced labor charges—scheduled to begin Aug. 9 in Brooklyn. A status hearing in the case is set for Wednesday. (Kelly, jailed in Chicago, faces additional charges in Illinois and Minnesota.)