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by Sharon Rondeau

Do lawyers really have the best interest of their clients in mind, or are they in the profession for the money?

(Dec. 1, 2010) — On November 19, Walter Fitzpatrick reported to The Post & Email that he had met with and retained an attorney to represent him in the case which Monroe County brought against him for an April 1 citizen’s arrest which he had effected at the courthouse in Madisonville.  That attorney has not contacted Mr. Fitzpatrick nor reappeared since that time.

Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that the attorney had mentioned that his services would or could cost $35,000, but that the attorney understood that necessary payments would be made in as it was raised by various supporters over time.

However, a conversation which occurred on November 30, 2010 between the attorney and an interested party which was reported to The Post & Email told a different story.  As it was reported to us, the attorney stated in a telephone call with the interested party that he had required $35,000 to even begin work on the case.

When Mr. Fitzpatrick contacted The Post & Email last evening from the Monroe County jail, he contradicted that contention and said that the contract he had signed and of which he retained a copy mentioned nothing of $35,000 “up-front.”  Since Fitzpatrick is incarcerated, The Post & Email cannot readily obtain a copy of the signed contract.

Fitzpatrick said, “He agreed to represent me.  Somebody’s gotten to this guy.”  In regard to the $35,000 retainer, Fitzpatrick responded, “That’s not what he said to me.  I was clear and I said, ‘I don’t have $35,000.  This money is going to have to be collected up.’  He said that he was going to prepare a series of motions and talked about what those motions were going to be; that he was going to try to get those filed, but he never talked about a lump-sum, up-front payment.”  I said as far as payment issues were concerned, those would be discussed with outside parties who would make the arrangements.  He told me when he signed the documents, which I have, that he would take the case,” and I said, “OK, great.”

The Post & Email then asked Mr. Fitzpatrick, “And taking the case was not contingent on $35,000 up-front?” to which Fitzpatrick replied, “Again, the conversation that I had with him was that he needed to talk with the outside parties about what kind of effort would be made to collect up the funds.”

When we told Mr. Fitzpatrick that The Post & Email’s fund did not currently have an amount even approaching $35,000, he said, “That’s OK.  We now have another metric.  I’m happy that you don’t have to pay a retainer.  If he was an upright man, he would have called me a week ago and told me what was going on, and he didn’t do that.  I will tell you that this court is doing everything it can to manipulate events, so the power of this court is being used to exercise extraordinary prejudice against me.”

A phone call made to the attorney by The Post & Email last Tuesday, November 23, was not returned until yesterday, November 30, when the attorney left a message stating, “I heard you called” and left what was apparently a cell phone number, as it was not his office number.  However, the message came in after the report from the interested party which had stated that the attorney said he had required $35,000 to begin any work on the case.  When we related that to Mr. Fitzpatrick last night, he said, “No.  If he had said that, I would have told…,” but we were interrupted by the automated operator which provides a one-minute warning on the time and available credit limitations during phone calls made from the jail and military prisons across the country.  We then hung up and Mr. Fitzpatrick called us back.

The Post & Email was a witness to the documents containing the eight charges against Fitzpatrick having been faxed to the attorney on November 18, 2010, before his November 19 meeting with Fitzpatrick.  We had also sent the attorney an email on November 18, 2010, which stated, in part:

If and when you reach the point where you need a retainer, the news site has raised some money which could be used to get that started.

We did not receive a response to the email.

Whether or not an attorney can request a “retainer” of $35,000 before beginning work is in question.  Information on attorney retainers can be found here.  Another source states that “Often, retainers are paid monthly, based on an estimate of the amount of work to be done for the client each month.”

The Post & Email contacted the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington, DC, to inquire as to whether or not such a retainer is ethically permissible, but their voice recording states that they do not give out legal advice.  Their motto is “Liberty’s Last Champion.”  But are they?  Are lawyers the answer to the abrogations of the Constitution which we currently face?

The Knoxville Bar Association has a link to a handbook on “Prepaid Legal Plans” which provides for “legal services of all kinds” which is equated to “the legal industry’s version of HMOs.”  Howver, this type of plan does not appear to be applicable to criminal charges.  When The Post & Email called the Knoxville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service at 865-522-7501, a prerecorded greeting stated that the caller could leave contact information in order to obtain a referral and a complimentary consultation with a Knoxville area attorney.  The website is geared towards the hiring of an attorney rather than the dissemination of general information about legal ethics or fees.

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  1. Are you ever going to name this traitor so that the appropriate steps can be taken?
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: I can assure you that action is being taken as we speak.

  2. $35,000 seems pretty high, and he probably could’ve gotten a better deal elsewhere. Requiring the money up-front is fairly standard, but not universal.

  3. I’m not surprised. I envisioned Walter doing this without representation. Your phone contact with him, Sharon, is crucial. I’m sending more to the fund to keep this going. I strongly suggest others who are reading do the same. He also has a $3000 fine to pay. Keeping the pressure on MCSD and keeping Walter safe until his release is what we can do now.

  4. Mrs. Rondeau,

    You are doing a great job!!! Thank you for the info!

    Maybe we could have gotten the money together if we knew who this fella was. Walt said you could reveal the name now, but it may be too late. Who is this money grubber anyway?

  5. The news of this lawyer failing to represent Walt at his trial today is very troubling. The fact the he did not file a notice of representation with the court was a clear indication that he had no intention of representing Walt. It would be interesting to see a copy of the contract for representation.

    I pray that at least one juror, if not all, will vote for Walt’s acquittal.

    1. Mr. Haffey,

      Unfortunately, I have had experiences with criminal defense lawyers. Every single one of them demanded their entire fee up front. I guess they figgered that if I went to jail, they’d never get paid.

      Do you do criminal work? I’ll bet you let your clients pay you later, because you seem like an unright guy.