The New York Daily News by Alison Gendar and Scott Shifrel - March 21, 2010
Joyce David is being investigated for asking for public funds after agreeing to take case for free.
A prominent Brooklyn lawyer is under investigation for asking for $50,000 in public funds to defend murderous bouncer Darryl Littlejohn - after agreeing to take the case for free, the Daily News has learned. Joyce David, 60, is the target of an ethics complaint by a city official and could be the first casualty in a bitter fight over a taxpayer-funded program for defendants who can't afford an attorney. The complaint was filed by Mayor Bloomberg's deputy criminal justice coordinator, Shari Hyman, who is pushing for an overhaul of the so-called 18b "assigned counsel" program, sources said. A City Hall spokesman declined to comment, while David's lawyer said she had done nothing wrong. A well-known lawyer who once headed the Kings County Criminal Bar Association, David has represented the likes of former Jet Mark Gastineau and wrote a book, "What You Should Know if You're Accused of a Crime." Locked up at Rikers Island for the murder of Imette St. Guillen in 2006, Littlejohn read David's book and told Justice Cheryl Chambers he wanted her to represent him instead of the two 18b lawyers already assigned. Chambers refused until David offered to work for free, and the case eventually wound up in Justice Abe Gerges' courtroom. In 2008, David wrote to Gerges and revealed she had tried and failed to get paid from Littlejohn's mother's estate and could no longer work for free. She asked to be appointed as part of the 18b plan. "I have spent hundreds of hours to date in my representation of Mr. Littlejohn and expect that, to do an effective job, I will have to spend hundreds more hours," David wrote in a letter obtained by The News. Gerges assigned David to the 18b pool, setting her up for a $46,000 fee, which has been held up because of questions about how she got the case. She waged a vigorous defense, but Littlejohn was convicted of first-degree murder last June and sentenced to life without parole. She later resigned from the 18b plan. Her lawyer said there was nothing untoward about asking to be included in the program. "She didn't do anything wrong either ethically or legally," David's lawyer, Richard Mischell, said. "She was upfront with her request and the judge could have said, 'no.'" firstname.lastname@example.org