Friday, March 19, 2004 | 11:10 a.m.
District Judge Joseph Bonaventure this morning granted a motion allowing prosecutors to interview the attorney Rick Tabish accused of improperly handling his appeal on extortion charges.
Prosecutors had asked permission to question local attorney Bill Terry, who handled Tabish's appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court on his conviction on charges he extorted Jean sand pit operator Leo Casey. Tabish is still being held in custody on those charges.
Bonaventure granted only a limited waiver of attorney-client privilege and said Terry will be allowed to discuss only the extortion charges when he is questioned during an upcoming court hearing.
Defense attorneys said the ruling would have little effect on Tabish's upcoming retrial on charges that he and co-defendant Sandy Muprhy killed gaming executive Ted Binion.
"This was not a setback at all," said local defense attorney Tony Sgro, who was recently assigned to the case.
Because the waiver was limited, Terry's comments will revolve around appeal strategies, Tony Serra, Tabish's San Francisco attorney, said.
Terry will not be able to address any other disclosures Tabish may have made during his representation, Serra said.
"He (Terry) is not going to go beyond the appellate issues," he said. "This won't be very meaningful or dramatic in terms of the trial."
In a writ of habeas corpus filed in December, Tabish said Terry ignored multiple requests to raise specific issues regarding the extortion charges when the case was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Prosecutors argued that Tabish had effectively waived his right to attorney client privilege by alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.
The hearing date in which Terry will be questioned will occur after a May 7 hearing.
Tabish's conviction on the extortion charges was the only ruling upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court when the high court ordered a new trial for Tabish and Murphy on murder charges.