Michael Sokolow's Good Call

 Posted on January 06, 2010 in Uncategorized

Back in November, Kent Schaffer must have been feeling pretty good. Schaffer, one of Houston's top criminal-defense lawyers, had been appointed by Judge David Hittner to, along with the Public Defender, represent R. Allen Stanford in the juiciest criminal case in town. When Schaffer took the case it was at the CJA's $110-an-hour rate, considerably less than would make spending the same time on his retained cases. It was a court-appointed dream team-Schaffer and Assistant PD Michael Sokolow, another of the best criminal lawyers in town.

Then in October insurance money-up to $95 million from Lloyd's Of London for legal fees-became available. Stanford told Schaffer and Assistant PD Michael Sokolow that he wanted to retain them to stay on the case.

Kent accepted. Michael declined, turning down millions in fees to stay at the PD's Office.

Now Lloyd's has decided that it doesn't have to pay. Kent is still on the case-as unpaid "retained" counsel, with the possibility of making real money years down the road if he successfully sues Lloyd's (and otherwise the expectation, it appears, of payment under the Criminal Justice Act). Sokolow's representation ended on October 15th, 2009, and George "Mac" Secrest stepped in as second-chair counsel. Schaffer and Secrest already have successful private practices, with other retained cases to help them pay the bills, but if Sokolow had accepted the lure of the One Big Case to leave the PD's Office, as Schaffer says, "his life would be devastated by now."

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