LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The woman convicted of trying to extort
University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino should be
required to file a new appellate brief because her last filing
lacks factual and legal grounding, federal prosecutors said
In a motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Hill asked the U.S.
6th Circuit Court of Appeals to require 51-year-old Karen Cunagin
Sypher's lawyers to file a new brief. In the motion, Hill said the
brief filed by attorney David Brian Nolan doesn't include legal
citations or references to the trial record to back up her claims
that her attorney was ineffective and contains repeated errors.
"Instead, she provides a biased narrative containing only her
characterization of the events surrounding her criminal trial,
without support of any evidentiary value," Hill wrote.
In 2010, a jury convicted Sypher of extortion, lying to the FBI
and retaliation against a witness. Prosecutors said she sought
millions in cash, cars and a house from Pitino to stay quiet about
a tryst in a Louisville restaurant. She is serving a seven-year
sentence at a federal prison in Marianna, Fla.
In her appeal, Sypher claims a broad conspiracy involving
Pitino, the federal trial judge and Sypher's former attorney to
ensure she would be found guilty.
Nolan called the conviction a "disastrous injustice."
While the appeal raises multiple issues, nearly all have been
previously rejected by law enforcement and U.S. District Judge
Charles Simpson III of Louisville, who handled similar claims after
Sypher's conviction. Simpson referred to Sypher's case as one
motivated by "sheer greed."
Hill notes that Nolan offered no citations in the record or
evidence of her claims about her attorney, the judge and
prosecutors. Instead, Hill notes, Nolan cites his own filings in
the case initially leveling the charges.
Citing one's own filings in an appeal has been rejected by other
courts as "inexcusable," Hill wrote.
Hill notes that even defendants filing their own appeals without
an attorney are required to cite legal authorities to back their
claims, along with appropriate references to the trial record.
"It is not too much to expect that Sypher would provide this
Court with at least the minimal `ready references' contained" in
an appeals brief, Hill wrote. Hill asked the court to give Nolan
four weeks to file a new brief.