R. Kelly trial judge in Chicago once acquitted lawyer now representing Kelly co-defendant

Defense attorney Beau Brindley faced perjury and obstruction of justice charges seven years ago in a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who cleared the rising-star lawyer.

SHARE R. Kelly trial judge in Chicago once acquitted lawyer now representing Kelly co-defendant
Beau Brindley as he leaves the Federal Court Building 219 S. Dearborn, after being acquitted on all charges. Monday, August 31, 2015

Beau Brindley after being acquitted in August 2015.

Sun-Times file

When R. Kelly and two of his former employees go to trial Monday in front of U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, one attorney sitting nearby will know exactly how it feels to be in the defendant’s chair — the anxiety, the fear and the weight.

Even how it feels to go to trial in front of Leinenweber. 

That’s because seven years ago, defense attorney Beau Brindley faced perjury and obstruction of justice charges of his own in a bench trial before Leinenweber, who ultimately acquitted the rising-star lawyer. 

Now, Brindley is preparing to defend former Kelly business manager Derrel McDavid in a jury trial presided over by the same judge who in 2015 found that prosecutors had failed to prove a single count against Brindley. 

Though it amounts to an extremely unusual dynamic in a highly publicized case, it’s no secret to veterans of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse — and it won’t be Brindley’s first trial before Leinenweber since the acquittal. Still, Brindley told the Chicago Sun-Times he sees “striking” parallels between his case and the obstruction of justice charge against his client, McDavid.

Beau Brinley is representing Derrel McDavid, R. Kelly’s former business manager.

Beau Brindley


“He knows that I understand where he’s coming from,” Brindley said. “When I tell him things, when I interact with him, he knows that I speak with a degree of authority and experience that is hard to find. And which I don’t really recommend for anybody.”

Brindley went to trial with his associate Michael Thompson, who also was acquitted. Thompson was represented by Edward Genson, the legendary Chicago lawyer who defended Kelly in his 2008 state-court child pornography trial.

Now prosecutors say Kelly cheated his way to an acquittal in that 2008 trial, and Brindley said Genson is at the “center” of the feds’ case. So while Brindley will officially be there to defend McDavid, he said he also feels he will be “defending the reputation, the memory of Edward Genson,” who died in 2020. 

That’s because McDavid “was an agent of the attorneys” in Kelly’s 2008 trial, Brindley said.

Federal prosecutors from Milwaukee handled the 2015 trial of Brindley and Thompson. They accused the pair of coaching witnesses to lie under oath, as well as offering false information to the courts and the U.S. attorney’s office. Brindley testified in his own defense, telling Leinenweber the only direction he gave clients was “they have to tell the absolute truth.”

After his acquittal, Brindley told reporters the case had “given me so much greater perspective on what criminal defendants go through, and I will take that with me in every case from here on out.”

Speaking recently to the Sun-Times, Brindley said his experience in Leinenweber’s courtroom gives him comfort and confidence that the rulings there will be fair. He also credited his defense attorneys in the 2015 trial, Cynthia Giacchetti and Patrick Blegen, as well as Genson, for his acquittal and all the work he’s been able to do since. 

He said that he and Thompson relied on them “to protect everything, our whole future.” And McDavid will be putting the same trust in him. 

“We really have been in the very same situation,” Brindley said.

Brindley said he and Thompson felt like they were criminally charged for “doing our jobs too well” on behalf of people who “made decisions to lie.” In McDavid’s case, he said, it’s “almost sort of eerily the same.” 

Federal prosecutors say McDavid agreed to intimidate and pay off victims and witnesses in Kelly’s earlier state-court prosecution. They also say he helped collect videos depicting Kelly engaging in sex acts with minors in order to keep the tapes from investigators.

Brindley said McDavid was “doing what he thought was the best of his job for a client who was not fully truthful with everybody.” 

And, Brindley added, “I know what that feels like.”

The Latest
The Bears coach said he would make the same call “based on the scenario that was there” if he had it to do all over again. Khalil Herbert was stopped for no gain, the Broncos responded with a 51-yard field goal and won, 31-28 to drop the Bears to 0-4.
A man and a teenage boy were outside in the 1000 block of West Argyle Street when someone approached from an alley and opened fire.
The Blackhawks welcome the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft into the fold this fall. We provide details on his play, his progress and his promise in Chicago throughout the days leading up to his Oct. 10 debut.
Dorothy Hoffner became the oldest-living person to parachute from a plane on Sunday at Skydive Chicago Airport in Ottawa.
The ’80s-set musical’s characters start out loathsome and just stay that way.