New York Times on Legal Battles Between Wrongfully Imprisoned and Their Attorney

We first met Lubbock attorney Kevin Glasheen back in August 2007, when his client, Billy James Smith, became the first man exonerated through DNA evidence to file a federal civil rights and malicious prosecution lawsuit against the Dallas Police Department. Glasheen would go on to rep several more wrongfully imprisoned men, including Patrick Waller and Steven C. Phillips -- who, you may recall, sued Glasheen back in September 2009 for trying to take a huge hunk of the $4 million the state owed him after Phillips spent 24 years in prison for a sexual assault and robbery he did not commit.

Turns out, Glasheen's embroiled in several suits involving the formerly imprisoned, who are trying to keep Glasheen from collecting a percentage of the money owed them by the state. The State Bar's also involved, calling the attorney's bills nothing short of "unconscionable." Meanwhile, state Rep. Rafael Anchia's hoping to "close the door" on attorneys taking dough from the likes of Waller and Phillips. The New York Times reports:

The disputes have bitterly divided the community of lawyers and activists who struggle to help the falsely accused, and they have brought an uncomfortable spotlight on the practices of some within the Innocence Project of Texas, whose co-founder and chief counsel, Jeff Blackburn, is in line to collect $413,000 of the Glasheen fee for referring the Phillips civil case to him.

To Mr. Glasheen, the cases are "a simple fee dispute" and not unusual. "When the money came in, they didn't want to pay us," he said.

Mr. Glasheen predicted that the lawsuits from his former clients would be dismissed, and that the bar's petition to the court would evaporate. "Meanwhile," he said, "I've got drug behind the pickup truck."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky