Judge gives Uresti court-appointed lawyer -- but not the one he wanted

Uresti said he can't afford his trial lawyer, but wanted him for appeal


SAN ANTONIO – A federal judge granted a request to allow a former state senator to have a court-appointed attorney for his appeal, but it's not the attorney Carlos Uresti wanted.

Uresti filed a motion saying he can no longer afford Michael McCrum, the attorney who represented him in a fraud case. Uresti was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay more than $6.3 million in restitution -- something he said prevented him from being able to retain McCrum.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad said Uresti qualified for court-appointed representation, but he did not agree to allow McCrum to continue to represent Uresti at taxpayer expense.

"The San Antonio Division of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas maintains a panel of qualified attorneys for appointment in criminal cases," Bemporad wrote. "The panel is subdivided into various panel categories based on the attorneys' qualification, experience, and willingness to serve; the categories include an 'appellate category' of attorneys who are designated to 'handle appeals to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' ... Although Mr. McCrum serves in other panel categories under the Amended Plan, he does not serve in the appellate category."

Instead, the judge appointed John Ritenour Jr. to represent Uresti in his appeal.

Uresti is facing trial again later this year on charges of bribery and money laundering.