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Legal Ethics

Lawyer’s 25-Percent Contingent Fee for Getting Exonerated Clients Millions Not Proven Excessive

Posted Feb 16, 2012 6:36 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A judge trying a legal ethics case has ruled that the State Bar of Texas failed to prove attorney Kevin Glasheen charged excessively while obtaining millions of dollars in compensation for prisoners exonerated by DNA evidence.

Glasheen, who is credited with persuading state lawmakers to raise the amount of yearly compensation from $50,000 to $80,000 made millions by representing 12 former inmates, reports the Associated Press.

He charged a 25 percent contingency fee and, according to a closing argument by a state bar attorney, made $4.36 per second during the 40 hours he said he spent filling out a one-page application for state compensation for one client.

A lawyer for Glasheen said the compensation agreements were made when circumstances are different than they are today, and had to be evaluated in light of what was reasonable at the time the contracts were signed.

"It's been a difficult case," said State District Judge Robin Darr before ruling in the case against the West Texas lawyer. "At first blush, it looked very clear-cut. But it's not."

The bar's chief disciplinary counsel said it will consider appealing the ruling.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Freed from Prison & Awarded $4M, Exonerated Man Fights $1M Legal Bill"

ABAJournal.com: "Lawyer Accused of Overcharging Exonerated Inmates Who Collected Under Law He Helped Pass"

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