Scott Rosenblum has withdrawn as the attorney for Mehrdad Fotoohighiam, who has been in the Boone County Jail since 2016 and faces charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, first-degree assault, tampering with a witness and conspiracy to tamper with a witness.
Rosenblum, of St. Louis, has been Fotoohighiam’s defense attorney since 2018 and represented him in a 2019 trial in which Fotoohighiam was acquitted of first-degree arson. Fotoohighiam had been accused of hiring a former employee to set a fire that burned down Marcia Green’s trailer in 2014. That former employee, James Hall, also was acquitted of the crime.
In 2018, however, a jury awarded Green $2.75 million in a personal injury lawsuit. Rosenblum did not represent Fotoohighiam in that matter.
Rosenblum had previously asked to withdraw as Fotoohighiam’s attorney Feb. 11. Special Judge Steven Ohmer, however, advised Fotoohighiam to have a serious conversation with his attorney to see if they could resolve their differences. He said at the time that he wanted Fotoohighiam’s trial, scheduled for May, to go forward.
On Thursday, Rosenblum filed a second request to withdraw. Ohmer granted it.
Rosenblum’s request to the court said Fotoohighiam disagrees with his defense strategies and that the two “cannot overcome their differences.”
“Defendant refuses to follow the advice of Counsel and consistently hinders the legal strategy that has been developed,” Rosenblum wrote. “Finally, Defendant has repeatedly acted out against the advice of Counsel and such activity is damaging the defense in this cause. Counsel believes that the relationship with Defendant has deteriorated to such extent that he can no longer adequately represent Defendant.”
The murder conspiracy and assault charges against Fotoohighiam allege that he offered to pay two inmates at the Boone County Jail to kill a circuit court judge identified in a probable cause statement only as “J.H.,” who was originally set to hear his arson case, as well as someone the statement calls “H.F.”
Circuit Judge Jeff Harris is the only judge in the 13th Judicial Circuit with the initials J.H.
Fotoohighiam has remained in the jail with no bond — a previous $5 million cash bond was revoked — even after his arson trial while awaiting trial on the conspiracy charge. On Feb. 19, a grand jury indicted him on the additional assault and witness tampering charges.
Ohmer scheduled a new status hearing in Fotoohighiam’s case for April 2. A two-week jury trial had been scheduled to begin May 17, but he now will need to find a replacement attorney.