The Work

April 9, 2009 1:29 PM

Inside Kwame Kilpatrick's Super-Sized Legal Bills

Posted by Brian Baxter

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is no stranger to legal proceedings.

Perhaps that's why the 6-foot-5-inch Kilpatrick, recently released from jail into the arms of famed plaintiffs lawyer Willie Gary, happens to have some supersized legal bills.

The Detroit News reports that financial records released by Kilpatrick's campaign fund show that several firms--Winston & Strawn, Dykema Gossett, Pepper Hamilton, and Plunkett Cooney--were well compensated for their efforts representing the self-styled "hip-hop mayor."

The campaign finance records show that Kilpatrick has tapped his campaign fund for almost $980,000 to pay attorneys fees, a move The Detroit News has called "legally debatable." (A few months ago we considered whether former Illinois governor and Disney World fan Rod Blagojevich could do the same.)

Here's the breakdown of payments, from largest to smallest:

-$286,512 to Michigan firm Plunkett Cooney. Of counsel James Thomas served as Kilpatrick's local counsel and eventually took over as his primary criminal defense lawyer.

-$233,512 to Winston & Strawn. Chairman and noted trial lawyer Dan Webb served as Kilpatrick's lead counsel--click here for a story our own Zach Lowe wrote about Webb's role in the case--although he rarely appeared with his client in court.

-$110,000 to Mitchell, Lord & Associates. Name partner William Mitchell appeared at some of Kilpatrick's early criminal proceedings and dealt with SkyTel, the Clinton, Miss.-based telecommunications company that provided copies of incriminating text messages that implicated Kilpatrick in wrongdoing. (Kilpatrick has since sued the company.)

-$100,000 to Birmingham's Parkman, Adams & White. Name partner James Parkman III, best known for representing former HealthSouth found Richard Scrushy, left Kilpatrick's legal team in August shortly before he entered a guilty plea on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

-$90,000 to Dykema Gossett. The Detroit firm helped Kilpatrick set up his legal defense fund.

-$70,000 to The Cochran Firm in Farmington Hills, Mich. Founded by Johnnie Cochran, the firm was affiliated with Parkman.

-$48,858 to Pepper Hamilton. A former partner at the firm, William Phillips, has been a longtime friend and assistant to Kilpatrick. Phillips has since left Pepper Hamilton to start his own firm.

-$20,000 to Alexandria, Va.-based Moffitt & Brodnax. William Moffitt's firm is suing Kilpatrick for an additional $80,000 in bills that it claims hasn't been paid.

-$10,000 to Detroit lawyer Gerald Evelyn, who helped negotiate Kilpatrick's guilty plea.

-$9,250 to Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.-based solo practitioner Philip Thomas, who argued that Kilpatrick should be allowed to keep his law license.

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I presume the campaign money will now be IRS taxable as it was used for personal use? I also wonder how the PR folks got paid. I do not see them listed,

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