A man who expects to receive almost $4.1 million in compensation from the state for the 24 years he spent in prison after being wrongfully convicted of sexual assault has sued the attorney who lobbied the Texas Legislature earlier this year to boost the amount paid to exonerees. Plaintiff Steven C. Phillips alleges in the petition he filed Sept. 17 in Dallas’ 95th District Court that defendants Kevin Glasheen and his firm, Glasheen, Valles, Inderman & DeHoyos in Lubbock, had performed no “meaningful legal services” for Phillips, who terminated them Sept. 16. According to the petition in Phillips v. Glasheen, et al., the defendants claim under a contingent fee contract Phillips signed in December 2008 that Phillips owes them more than $1 million, 25 percent of the compensation he will receive. Glasheen says all he did from November 2008 until May of this year was work on behalf of Phillips and 11 other exonerees to persuade the Legislature to pass H.B. 1736, which increased the compensation for those who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned from $50,000 to $80,000 a year. “It is interesting that he waited until the money is here to decide he doesn’t need my services,” Glasheen says of Phillips. R.J. DeSilva, spokesman for the Office of the State Comptroller, says funding for the compensation to be paid in fiscal year 2010 became available Sept. 1. Damien Brockmann, legislative director for state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, author of H.B. 1736, says Glasheen played “a huge role” in moving the bill forward and getting the legislative leadership to allow it to pass. Randy Turner, Phillips' attorney and a partner in Hurst’s Turner & McKenzie, says Glasheen did some lobbying but that Turner is unaware of any legal services that Glasheen performed for Phillips, who is asking the court to declare his fee agreement with Glasheen “unconscionable.” In an unusual twist, Glasheen, Valles today filed suit against Turner, the firm of Turner & McKenzie and two other lawyers -- Turner’s wife, Patti Gearhart Turner and John Stickels -- in Lubbock’s 72nd District Court. In its original petition in Glasheen, Valles, Inderman & DeHoyos v. Turner, et al., Glasheen, Valles requested a temporary restraining order to block the defendants from contacting Glasheen, Valles’ clients and a temporary injunction. Judge Brad Underwood of the 72nd District Court signed the TRO this afternoon and set an Oct. 1 hearing on the request for a temporary injunction. Among the allegations in the petition are that the defendants tortiously interfered with Glasheen, Valles’ contract with Phillips. Glasheen, Valles also alleges in the petition that Gearheart Turner, dean of students at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, and Stickles, a criminal justice professor at the University of Texas in Arlington, “colluded” to intentionally entice Phillips to breach his contract. Gearheart Turner did not immediately return a telephone call for comment. Stickels called the allegations in the petition “absolutely 100 percent false.” Randy Turner says Glasheen, Valles’ suit is frivolous. He says Phillips had asked Stickels for assistance in firing his attorney and that Stickels suggested Phillips call Gearheart Turner, who gave him her husband’s number.
-- Mary Alice Robbins