Attorney Fees

Judge: No Release from KPMG Defense


Lawyers for a defendant in the KPMG tax shelter fraud case signed on and can’t now sign off until the case reaches a final conclusion, a federal court judge says.

Although he was initially paid $400,000 by the Big Four accountant, attorney Robert Fink is concerned the ongoing representation of former KPMG partner Richard Smith in the high-profile criminal case is going to cost him a fortune, now that KPMG has stopped paying defense costs, as ABAJournal.com discussed last week. But U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan says Kostelanetz & Fink has no choice but to continue, New York Lawyer (reg. req.) reports today, reprinting a New York Law Journal story.

“Having signed on for the voyage, they are on for the voyage unless relieved by the court,” Kaplan said at a conference yesterday on United States v. Stein, 05 Crim. 888. He did not discuss the fee issue.

Fink and Caroline Rule sought to resign from Smith’s representation after Kaplan dismissed their client from the case last week, along with 12 other defendants, because of prosecutorial misconduct (see earlier ABAJournal.com post for details). That ended their obligation to represent Smith, now that the prosecution has appealed the dismissal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the two argued.

In general, a criminal defense lawyer is expected to represent a client through appeal, once he or she has accepted the case, unless a court accepts a motion to withdraw.

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