Lee claims victory in battle over legal fees

Joseph Lee
Joseph Lee

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Former MLGW president Joseph Lee is claiming victory after a judge's ruling in court Monday.

Lee, along with Robert Spence and Halbert Dockins, the two attorneys that represented him during his federal corruption case, faced Judge Arnold Goldin as co-defendants.

Lee has spent the last two years of his life in court rooms, and was the brunt of public scorn after he was forced to resign from his job as MLGW president.

Federal corruption charges filed against him in 2007 were later dropped.

"Just imagine if you or some of your loved ones were falsely accused of a crime that they did not do and you were kept on the hook for two years," Lee said. "Then, just before you get ready to go to trial, they throw in the case because it never was a case."

Private citizen Al Thomas sued the trio to prevent them from spending $426,000 the city reimbursed Lee for his legal bills to fight the feds.

"What compels me?  A sense of injustice as a taxpayer to see that the city spends money intelligently," Thomas said.

During Monday's hearing, Lee took the stand and when said the city issued a check for the money during the first week of July, he immediately split it to pay off his attorneys.

Thomas' attorney, Ron Krelstein, filed an injunction to prevent Lee from spending that money after the money was already gone.

"An injunction prevents something from occurring. But if it's already happened you're just too late to do that," City Attorney Allan Wade said.

Outside the courtroom, attorneys on both sides had little reaction.

"(Judge Goldin) ruled and his ruling is correct," Krelstein said.

"The law is just crystal clear," Spence added. "I'm convinced in 30 days this will all be over."

The case has been dissolved, not dismissed.  Judge Goldin granted the Attorney General 30 days to consider filing a legal opinion in this case, and it could return to court if wrongdoing is found.

However, attorneys don't expect the Attorney General to get involved.

Meanwhile, Lee said he simply wants his life back.

"I'm just trying to move on and proceed," he said.

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