Just to give you an idea of how screwed up Michael Vick’s life is, here’s this nugget of information from the DAILY PRESS OF NEWPORT NEWS: his lawyers are now fighting with each other in court over legal fees. It seems that his criminal lawyers are concerned that the lawyers in his ongoing bankruptcy case are over-billing him for their services. And the fact that they had originally submitted a fee application for $2.66 million in billable hours and expenses would tend to lend some credence to their claims.
Vick’s bankruptcy lawyers have claimed to have worked more than 7,200 hours on his case. Lawrence H. Woodward Jr. and Billy Martin, the lawyers who negotiated his plea deal on dogfighting charges, showed up at a bankruptcy hearing to claim that number sounds incredibly fishy to them.
Woodward said the 7,200 hours would equate to one attorney working on the case 24 hours straight for 300 days. While he’s a criminal attorney, not a bankruptcy one, Woodward said it seems that Crowell & Moring might not have used proper “reasonableness and judgment” in the dispute with a key creditor, Vick’s former sports agent.
“Sometimes it means picking which battles you’re going to fight,” Woodward said.
Not to peddle in cliches, but it takes a lot for lawyers to accuse another group of lawyers of unethical practices - especially when it’s not really any of their business. A cynic might say his criminal lawyers want to make sure he has enough money left to pay them for their work when everything is said and done, but I’ll be positive and hope they are just showing concern for a client.
What did the $213,000 that Vick’s bankruptcy lawyers originally bill go towards? Some pretty ridiculous stuff, apparently:
Kenneth N. Whitehurst III, a Justice Department attorney, said Crowell & Moring had originally charged Vick for “overhead” items not typically approved in Virginia bankruptcy cases.
For example, the firm’s original fee application charged Vick for the expense of operating its air conditioning on a Saturday. It charged him the cost of cab fare to send an employee home after working in Manhattan until 3 a.m., so she didn’t have to take the subway. And it charged $1,200 for airfare to Kansas — where lawyers went to visit Vick in prison — even though rates of $168 were available.
Vick’s bankruptcy lawyers have already reduced their bill to “just” $1.5 million and cut the expenses to $160,000 after coming under fire from government lawyers and creditors. But they contend that Vick’s case is “among the most difficult and time-consuming cases” they’ve ever handled, since he was in jail and his financial records were in tatters.
But there’s some good news for Michael Vick: his hometown of Newport News, VA is going ahead with a “Michael Vick Community Celebration” next Saturday. Come on down and bring the kids. Just not the dogs. Dear God, not the dogs.