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Legal Ethics

Lawyer Accused of Overcharging Exonerated Inmates Who Collected Under Law He Helped Pass

Posted Jan 19, 2011 9:02 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Texas lawyer who helped pass legislation to compensate exonerated inmates is accused in an ethics complaint of charging two men who collected millions of dollars under the new law an unconscionable contingency fee of 25 percent.

Lubbock attorney Kevin Glasheen did not file a lawsuit for either of the men, the Dallas Morning News reports. His contingency agreement called for him to be paid 25 percent of money received under the compensation system, 40 percent of the judgment in a lawsuit, or 45 percent of a judgment affirmed on appeal, according to the complaint by the State Bar of Texas.

Glasheen was instrumental in passing the 2009 law that makes Texas the most generous in the nation in compensating wrongly convicted inmates, the Associated Press reports. Glasheen represents 15 exonerated inmates, but the bar complaint focuses on his $1.6 million legal bill for two inmates who spent decades in prison for sexual assaults they did not commit.

One of the inmates, Steven Phillips, filed a suit against Glasheen in 2009 that claimed he performed no “meaningful legal services” for the money, according to a 2009 story by the Tex Parte blog published by Texas Lawyer.

Glasheen told AP that Phillips could get as much as $4 million under the new law, compared to about $1.2 million under the old system. "We are dealing with a novel approach that we took to getting these clients some good results," Glasheen said.

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