Convicted South Hills businessman granted new trial because of dozing lawyer Stan Levenson

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Attorney Levensen was a "top lawyer" - he is falling asleep during a criminal trial. That is just nuts. These lawyers are completely incompetent.

Convicted South Hills businessman granted new trial because of dozing lawyer Stan Levenson

A South Hills businessman convicted of orchestrating the region’s biggest mortgage fraud scheme will get a new trial because his lawyer fell asleep during the last one.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose decided Monday that James Nassida’s lawyer, Stan Levenson, could not act as an effective attorney because he dozed off during the trial last fall.

Judge Ambrose granted him a motion for a new trial with a new lawyer that she appointed, James Brink.

Based on testimony at a hearing about whether Mr. Levenson’s sleeping affected his ability, the judge said, “I can only conclude that attorney Levenson slept, and therefore was not functioning as counsel, during a substantial portion of Mr. Nassida’s trial.”

She said Mr. Nassida’s rights under the Sixth Amendment, guaranteeing a fair trial, had been violated.

The judge noted that Mr. Nassida explained that he was concerned he couldn’t get a fair trial because Mr. Levenson was nodding off during testimony. He said he had to nudge Mr. Levenson and estimated he fell asleep 20 times. Witnesses also noticed it, as did jurors and an assistant prosecutor who brought it to the judge’s attention.

Mr. Levenson said he fell asleep because he had taken cold medicine but didn’t know for how long he was asleep.

Mr. Nassida ran Century III Home Equity with his sister Janna Nassida as the No. 2 official at the company. Federal agents said the two led a scheme to inflate borrower income and assets to obtain millions in fraudulent loans.

Janna Nassida killed herself after the pair was convicted last year. The new trial for Mr. Nassida is set to start Sept. 5.

Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette