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Lawyers for former Washington Teachers’ Union official Gwendolyn Hemphill want a judge to close future hearings involving their client and to seal certain court documents to prevent any more “leaks” about her mental health. Defense attorney Nancy Luque, a partner with DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, filed a motion Feb. 10 lambasting government lawyers for “purposely, prematurely, and gratuitously” releasing confidential psychiatric information about Hemphill, who was convicted in September of taking part in a scheme to embezzle nearly $5 million in union funds. In a Feb. 6 court filing, federal prosecutors — who have voiced skepticism about Hemphill’s claims of mental illness — described alleged psychotic episodes in which she said she was confronted by a small, dark-skinned person with a spear. The prosecution suggests Hemphill is seeking leniency based on her alleged psychotic disorder. “It is time for the government to learn to temper their histrionics and to consider the consequences before spewing information they know is confidential,” Luque wrote, adding that Hemphill required in-patient psychiatric treatment as a result of the disclosure. Prosecutors oppose efforts to close future hearings, arguing in court documents that “The public has a strong and continuing need for access . . . to provide closure in what was a well-documented and egregious breach of trust.” Luque would not comment on the matter but said she planned to file a reply to the government’s opposition. Hemphill faces between 19 and 24 years in prison when she is sentenced in the U.S. District Court in D.C. Because of concerns raised about her mental health, two previously scheduled sentencing dates were postponed by Judge Richard Leon. A new date is set for May 22.
Sarah Kelley can be contacted at [email protected].

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