Disgraced celebrity lawyer Tom Girardi, accused of stealing over $15 million from clients, has been found competent to stand trial. The competency decision in California is expected to be followed by the Chicago court.
Competency Hearing Outcome
A federal judge filed a notice of the brief order under seal, stating that Tom Girardi has been found competent to stand trial on charges of client theft totaling over $15 million. Both sides have been given five days to identify any information they would like to keep confidential.
Legal Troubles and Allegations
Tom Girardi, 84, who is the estranged husband of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ star Erika Jayne, pleaded not guilty to wire fraud charges in Los Angeles. The charges allege that he embezzled from clients, including an Arizona widow, a Los Angeles couple, and a man affected by the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. His potential sentence could be decades in federal prison if convicted.
Competency Challenge and Legal Battles
Concerns about Girardi’s understanding of the charges and proceedings against him, as well as his ability to assist in his own defense, were at the core of the competency hearing. His attorneys claimed that his Alzheimer’s diagnosis caused confusion and memory problems. In contrast, prosecutors argued that Girardi was exaggerating his symptoms.
Rise and Fall of a Prominent Attorney
Tom Girardi, once known as one of the nation’s leading plaintiff’s attorneys, achieved a $333 million settlement in a high-profile case that became the basis for the 2000 film ‘Erin Brockovich.’ However, his legal career crumbled, leading to his disbarment in California in 2022 due to client thefts. In addition to the California case, he also faces federal wire fraud charges in Chicago related to the alleged theft of about $3 million from family members of victims of a 2018 Lion Air crash.