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Trump campaign lawyers can’t quit workplace discrimination case

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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah, Florida, U.S. November 8, 2023. 

Octavio Jones | Reuters

A New York federal judge on Thursday rejected — for now, at least — a request by a law firm to withdraw from representing the presidential campaign of Donald Trump in a discrimination lawsuit by former 2016 campaign advisor Arlene “A.J.” Delgado.

But Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker gave the law firm — LaRocca, Hornik, Greenberg, Kittredge, Carlin & McPartland — until Tuesday to submit to her “a more detailed explanation” of its argument that a “irreparable breakdown” of its relationship with the Trump campaign required the firm to withdraw from representing it in the case.

Parker’s ruling came a day after she held a closed-door meeting with lawyers from the firm and with their clients to discuss the withdrawal request.

“In this case, defense counsel’s declaration is insufficient to grant withdrawal at this time,” Parker wrote in her order Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. “By May 7, 2024, defense counsel shall submit a more detailed declaration setting forth the basis for the deterioration in the attorney-client relationship sufficient for the Court to evaluate the motion.”

Parker said that LaRocca, Hornik would submit its detailed explanation of the withdrawal request without informing Delgado of its contents to “protect attorney-client privilege.”

She told the firm to tell her if the firm was asserting a lien on the campaign for its work, and whether each of its clients consented to the witdrawal.

In addition to the Trump campaign, the firm represents the other defendants in Delgado’s suit: Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Steve Bannon all of whom held top positions in the Trump White House.

LaRocca, Hornik in a court filing last week told the judge that there had been “an irreparable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the Campaign.”

The filing did not reveal what led to that breakdown.

Delgado opposed the withdrawal request.

Delgado’s suit claims that he was stripped of her responsibilities as advisor and director of Hispanic outreach for Trump’s campaign in late 2016, and prevented from taking an expected job in the White House, after she told campaign officials that she was pregnant by senior Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller.

The suit alleges the defendants reneged on an agreement in 2017 to privately settle her complaint for an undisclosed amount of money.

Parker’s order Thursday noted that because the Trump campaign “is an entity” — not a person — “it may not represent itself.”

“Thus, if the motion to withdraw is granted, the Campaign will be at risk of default if it does not promptly obtain substitute counsel,” the judge wrote. “This order does not preclude defendants from moving to substitute counsel by submitting a stipulation of substitution of counsel before any of the deadlines set forth herein.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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