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Tandem Appeals To Be Heard in Brandon Barber Cases

2 min read

Two appeals generated by the Brandon Barber criminal litigation will be heard this week before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

A three-judge panel will hear oral arguments Thursday in the appeal of James Van Doren and on Friday in an appeal by federal prosecutors.

Van Doren sought unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of money laundering as part of a conspiracy to defraud creditors of Barber, the once high-flying northwest Arkansas developer.

He began serving a 15-month prison sentence on Jan. 5.

U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III ruled that Van Doren’s claim of factual innocence wasn’t sufficient to show “a fair and just reason” to let him take back his plea.

Van Doren had second thoughts after pleading guilty to a crime he said he didn’t commit and wanted to go to trial to contest the charge and six related counts.

In an interview last year, Van Doren said: “I regret I wasn’t stronger. I should have stood my ground and took my chances with the jury. I shouldn’t have signed. I just shouldn’t have signed the plea agreement.”

We’re told Van Doren’s appeal will be championed by Steve Braga, who helped represent the West Memphis Three in their appeal efforts.

The government is appealing a decision by Holmes to set aside a jury verdict against Barber’s bankruptcy attorney, Vaughn Knight.

Holmes acquitted Knight on the charge of making false statements and ordered a new trial on the seven remaining counts, which included conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, bankruptcy fraud-concealment of assets and money laundering.

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