From the 'Lectric Law Library's Stacks
by Janan Hanna, John O'Brien and Bill Crawford
May 16, 1995
The Chicago law firm of Katten Muchin & Zavis, along with partner William M. Doyle Jr., has become a lively side show in a brouhaha surrounding management of the $1.2 billion Doris Duke fortune. The tobacco heiress died in 1993 of a morphine overdose in her Beverly Hills mansion.
Katten Muchin and Doyle, as well as the firm's 180 partners, vigorously defend the $8 million fee agreement with U.S. Trust Corp. of New York, a preliminary co-executor of the estate, and co-executor Bernard Lafferty, Duke's butler.
In documents filed with Court Surrogate Eve Preminger in Manhattan- where Duke's will is being probated-lawyers from the premier New York firm Cravath Swaine & Moore, representing U.S. Trust, contend the $8 million retainer agreement with Katten Muchin was entirely reasonable.
Criticism over the size of the fee as well as several other matters has been directed at U.S. Trust by Richard H. Kuh, a former Manhattan prosecutor appointed by Preminger in April to review the way the estate has been managed. Kuh's report also raised questions about Duke's demise and her competence in February 1993, a few days before she hired Katten Muchin and ordered her will changed.
According to a filing by Cravath lawyers Thomas D. Barr, George J. Gillespie III and Daniel L. Mosley, "It was U.S. Trust's judgment that an $8 million fee . . . to the Duke estate would be within the range of reasonable compensation to estate counsel. . . ."
Duke hired Katten Muchin, presumably because of its expertise in creating and handling estates and trusts. Though Doyle declined to comment, a firm spokesman claimed Katten Muchin had put in exhaustive hours getting a handle on the $1.2 billion estate and that the fee-to be paid in three installments-isn't excessive, compared with New York state standards.
"Our fee is about the same as that approved in the Warhol estate (left by pop artist Andy Warhol), and that estate was a third the size of Doris Duke's," the spokesman said.
Who's the victim? As Cook County prosecutors, they were among the best. Now, as members of the defense bar, Pat O'Brien and Tony Calabrese, former chief deputies in the state's attorney's office, have teamed up to defend the unusual.
They say their client, Jim Reihel, 35, of Orland Park, who is scheduled to go on trial Monday on a charge of attempted murder, is actually a victim of crime. Reihel claims self-defense while protecting himself. Prosecutors, led by Assistant State's Atty. Robert Parchem, say he acted recklessly.
It is undisputed that Reihel, in the pre-dawn hours of May 5, 1994, got into his car and pursued four vandals he'd seen smashing his front-yard mailbox with an ax. He says he chased them to get their license plate number and, when they tried to run him down, fired two pistol shots, hitting no one. During the pursuit, Reihel twice used a cell phone to report the chase and location to a 911 police operator, speaking for 3 1/2 minutes, records show.
The vandals, ages 19 to 21 at the time, got court supervision after being charged with criminal damage to property.
Reihel hopes to get his day in court, and nothing else.
Reverse lawyering: It's no secret that Chicago law firms view the suburbs with a covetous eye, with many opening satellite offices for business outside Cook County. But at the Wheaton litigation firm of O'Reilly Cunningham Norton & Mancini, geography is reversed. Its newly enlarged Loop office in the Daniel Burnham Building now accommodates eight lawyers, up from four. And the adorning oil and water-color paintings are in-house-the work of partner Roger O'Reilly's wife, Dorothy.
- The amicable departure as a group of eight partners and associates from Baker & McKenzie to form Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth enables the new Loop firm to practice in a desired smaller environment, according to name partner Donald J. Brown Jr. "We are guys and gals who enjoy working together," he said of partners Richard Donohue, J. Kent Mathewson and Robert W. Smyth Jr. and associates Karen Kies DeGrand, Moira A. Dages, Michael Tarpey and Marke Burden.
- Jerome Cosentino's lawyers say his health remains poor. But life
goes on for the former state treasurer whose failing heart kept him
out of prison for bilking two banks. Just back from Florida, a
refreshed Cosentino told friends at a social gathering that he now
owns a retirement home in Naples, Fla.
Copyright Chicago Tribune
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