There are more than 100 witnesses on the state’s list in the trial against Hemy Neuman, the man charged in the November 2010 killing of Russell Sneiderman outside his child’s daycare center.
But the question on Jan. 4 was whether Esther Panitch, the attorney for Neuman’s wife Ariela, would be forced to testify when the trial begins next month.
Lawyers for Neuman were trying to convince Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams to allow them to question Panitch when they try to defend Neuman, who is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
Bob Rubin, an attorney for Neuman, would not say in open court exactly why Panitch is on their witness list.
“We are not playing games with the court,” Rubin said. “We are not playing games with Ms. Panitch. We think she has independent facts in the case.”
Panitch’s attorney, in explaining his motion to quash the subpoena, said, “There is nothing that she has that is direct evidence.”
Panitch, who is representing Ariela Neuman in her divorce petition against her husband, has “no independent knowledge, no independent facts pertaining to this [alleged] crime,” her attorney said.
Rubin said, “We are not seeking information about her conversations [with her client]. I do not want privileged information.”
In another motion, the district attorney’s office is trying to get a copy of the results of the mental evaluation of Neuman that was requested by the defense team. Neuman’s lawyers say the information is subject to attorney-client privilege.
The primary reason to quash the report is that the evaluation is protected by attorney-client privilege because it was work the attorney is using to represent Neuman, Rubin said.
Peter Thomas, the doctor performing the evaluation “did not do an evaluation for the purpose of testifying in court,” Rubin said. “He does not testify in court.”
Rubin said Neuman was told what he revealed to Thomas would not be discussed in court.
“The attorney-client privilege is held sacrosanct,” Rubin said. “We were trying to understand what this case was all about. It was never anticipated that he would be a witness in this case.”
Rubin said the district attorney office has had the opportunity to do its own evaluation of Neuman.
Judge Adams is taking the motions under consideration.