(AP) An attorney for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel has accused the lawyer who represented him at his murder trial of having a good time making trips around the country instead of preparing for the case.
Lawyer Michael Sherman took the stand Wednesday in Rockville Superior Court in Connecticut on the second day of Skakel's appeal. Sherman faces accusations he failed to competently defend Skakel, who was convicted in 2002 of the golf club bludgeoning of his neighbor Martha Moxley in 1975, when they were both 15.
Skakel, the 52-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, is hoping to get out of prison through a writ of habeas corpus arguing he was deprived of his constitutional right to effective legal representation when Sherman was his attorney.
Sherman said Wednesday that preparing for the case was his top priority. He said the trips were to meet with Skakel, who was then living in Florida, and others involved in the case.
Skakel's current attorney, Hubert Santos, reviewed a series of trips Sherman took from 1998 through 2001.
"What you were doing was making the trips ostensibly to investigate the Skakel matter, but what you were really doing was having a good time," Santos said.
Sherman confirmed that he had his motorcycle shipped down to Florida for one of his trips. "I did it so I didn't have to rent a car," he said.
Santos also played a tape of a speech Sherman gave to defense lawyers in Las Vegas in 2001 on handling the media in high-profile cases. Santos contended it showed Sherman was caught up in the celebrity of the case while failing to perform fundamental work on it.
"I'm only going to talk about one case and having fun with it," Sherman said on the tape. "I probably have too much fun."
Sherman said he was reluctant to do one magazine interview, but when offered any location for it, he suggested the Academy Awards "and all the cool parties." Sherman traded an interview to get tickets to the Academy Awards, Santos said.
Sherman recounted extensive media coverage of the case, including his television interviews with Katie Couric and others.
Skakel has lost two appeals before the Connecticut Supreme Court. He is serving 20 years to life in prison.