A “doggedly unrepentant” lawyer who billed her wrongful death clients for watching reality crime TV shows has been suspended for a year from law practice.
The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the suspension of Knoxville lawyer Yarboro Sallee, who was accused of billing her clients hourly fees of more than $140,000 for less than three months of work and insisting that they pay a contingency fee as well. The Legal Profession Blog, the Chattanoogan and the Knoxville News Sentinel have stories. The July 23 opinion is here (PDF).
From the Decision:
In her motion, Attorney Sallee also objected to the trial court’s comment that she “watched TV and charged her client for it.” She characterized this statement as “ridiculous,” adding, “since when is television not a respectable avenue for research anyway.” Attorney Sallee pointed to a particular time entry on her “billing statement” as legitimate billable time because it was spent watching a five-hour documentary on the Peterson “Stair Case Murder” in North Carolina. Her motion did not address a 12.5-hour time entry on September 25, 2010, for watching “48 Hours” episodes on similar spousal homicides, a 4.0-hour time entry on October 19, 2010 for watching four “48 Hours” episodes on asphyxia, or a 3.5-hour time entry on October 20, 2010 for watching these same “48 Hours” episodes a second time. At Attorney Sallee’s regular hourly rate, this would amount to over $5,000 for watching episodes of “48 Hours.”