Attorneys are necessary in our society, but sometimes, they can get in the way of fairness and be an expensive way to obtain justice. The case of the Central Park Five was a big cash cow for attorneys in New York who were fortunate enough to be involved in the $12.25 million dollar settlement with the city.
The settlement arose after five young black men were interrogated unfairly, manipulated and lied to in order to force a false confession to a crime that they did not commit. The case was a famous example of how young black men are regularly railroaded by police and tortured into confessions for things they did not do.
The firm of Stevens, Hinds & White defended Kharey Wise until 2010 and claims that despite not being involved in the case, they deserve a cut of the money. But the case has already paid $4 million to the other attorneys who helped Wise get to the finish line in a long and difficult journey.
The firm of Fisher, Byrialsen & Kreizer claims that the other firm isn’t owed much of anything. They say that the firm is only owed what it billed for the hours that were spent on the case. The entire situation drew the ire of the judge, who felt that the firms were being petty and ridiculous.
Manhattan Federal Court Judge Ronald Ellis threw in his two cents on the matter, and said he wasn’t pleased.
“It’s unpleasant when members of the bar are arguing against each other about fees,” Ellis said. “It should be about the client. We shouldn’t come to a point where the only interest before the court is that of the attorneys’.”
Last month, Ellis signed off on the settlement that formally acknowledged the quintet was wrongfully convicted of raping and beating Central Park jogger Trisha Meili in 1989.
Wise spent 13 years behind bars . As part of the settlement, the city also agreed to pay all lawyers on the case $285,000 total.
The Fisher firm says it did over 6,000 hours of work on Wise’s behalf after 2010, roughly eight times more than Hinds.
Ellis chastised the attorney representing the Hinds firm for not raising the issue of attorneys’ fees in 2010, when Wise fired them.