Andrea Sneiderman appeared at an arraignment hearing Oct. 8, 2012, in DeKalb County Superior Court. She has pleaded not guilty to charges related to her husband's death and on Oct. 29, 2012, she sought a judge's permission to visit the grave of the man she is accused of conspiring to kill.
Andrea Sneiderman’s attorneys have asked a judge to postpone any depositions in the civil cases brought against her until after she stands trial in DeKalb County for conspiring to kill her husband.
Sneiderman “should not be placed in a position where she is forced to defend against the allegations in the state’s forfeiture case and, in doing so, potentially make statements in deposition testimony that the prosecutors will attempt to use against her in the criminal case,” states the motion, filed earlier this month in Fulton County Superior Court.
The Dunwoody widow’s attorneys claim that DeKalb prosecutors are working in concert with civil attorney Esther Panitch, who represents Sneiderman’s in-laws, setting up a potential legal minefield for their client, who has denied any involvement in her husband’s death.
In her response, filed earlier this week, Panitch said, “It is obvious the defendant is terrified of testifying under oath.”
Prosecutors said Sneiderman’s testimony in the murder trial of her former boss, Hemy Neuman, helped influence their decision to charge the mother of two with plotting to have her husband, Rusty, killed in November 2010.
Neuman was found guilty but mentally ill in March and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the fatal shooting.
“If Mrs. Sneiderman is required to sit for a deposition she will very likely be forced to discuss matters covered by the indictment pending against her” according to the motion.
Sneiderman could exercise her Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to testify, but jurors in a civil trial can hold that against her when reaching a verdict.
“If she chooses to assert her rights not to answer certain questions in the deposition, this will result in a negative inference in the civil litigation and will make it more difficult for her to defend herself against the forfeiture allegations,” according to Sneiderman’s lawyers.
But if she does testify, her statements could be used against her in the criminal trial, her attorneys said.
“The motion represents yet another desperate attempt by [Sneiderman] to avoid the consequences of her own actions and to demand to be treated differently than any other person charged with crimes in the state of Georgia,” wrote Panitch in her response. “It is not this court’s obligation to relieve her of these burdens.”
Sneiderman is a defendant in two civil actions: the forfeiture case, in which the state seized insurance payouts and inheritances, and a wrongful death suit filed by her brother-in-law. She in turn has filed a defamation suit against Steve Sneiderman.
No date has been set for the criminal trial, but attorneys for Andrea Sneiderman said a July start date is likely.