R. Kelly’s Longtime Lawyers Move to Quit His Case as Trial Nears

On Wednesday, Judge Donnelly said the trial date would not be postponed despite the possible late upheaval. “It sounds like nobody is asking for an adjournment of trial, which I wouldn’t grant in any event,” the judge said.

Mr. Greenberg had represented Mr. Kelly, 54, since 2018, before he was charged in the criminal case. But both he and Mr. Leonard said their joint departure was spurred by agitation with two other lawyers on the case, who they said lack trial experience at the federal level and began to demand a larger, more forward-facing role in the trial.

“Frankly, everyone wants to be first chair, everyone wants to do opening, everyone wants to do closing,” Mr. Greenberg said at the hearing, “and that just can’t be.”

The two had twice sought to discuss those concerns with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Greenberg said. But the singer rejected both attempts to meet with him. “It’s unfortunate because these other people are clueless,” Mr. Greenberg said in an interview. “But that’s his choice. You can’t save someone from themselves.”

During the hearing, one of the two lawyers who joined the case later, Nicole Becker, called those comments “inappropriate” on the whole. In a statement, she and the fourth lawyer, Thomas A. Farinella, said that the matter should have been moot: Mr. Kelly had already terminated the two others from the case last week, they said.

When asked by the judge if he wanted to move forward with just half of his legal team, Mr. Kelly responded, “Absolutely, yes, ma’am.”

Ms. Becker and Mr. Farinella did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment after the hearing.

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