Lighter side: lawyer bills client for TV-watching research

by Samantha Woodhill04 Sep 2015
A Tennessee lawyer billed a client $5000 worth of ‘research’ - which turned out to be watching true crime shows.

Hired by parents who suspected the tragic death of their daughter may have been caused by their son-in-law who was motivated by an insurance payout, the attorney watched episodes of a true crime TV show on spousal homicides and asphyxia.

“Since when is television not a respectable avenue for research anyway,” she told the Tennessee Supreme Court when her former clients filed an application with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

According to Above the Law, the attorney responded to the client complaints made to the board with a $140,000 bill with the TV watching entries, insisting that she had done nothing wrong.

In the disciplinary hearing, she pointed out a time entry she deemed to be legitimate because it was a five hour documentary on a stair case murder, even billing the client twice for watching the same episode of ‘48 hours’ a second time.

“At every turn in these proceedings, faced with findings at every level that her conduct breached numerous ethical rules, attorney Sallee has been doggedly unrepentant.  Indeed, her consistent response has bordered on righteous indignation,” the Supreme Court of Tennessee said in the judgement of the case. 

“Under all of these circumstances, we find ample support for the one-year suspension in this case.”