I’m not sure if Black people bought into the whole “Larry H. Parker got me 2.1 million” thing, but for some reason when tragedy strikes and a lawsuit is eminent, it is the thinking of many Black people–both educated and not–that unless the attorney is white and/or Jewish, that attorney is no good. In other words, the white man’s ice is colder.
No one can tell me any different because I’ve heard it said over and over by Black people of all ages and in a variety of different colorful ways that all add up to the same thing–when it comes to a lawyer white is always right.
Do I agree? No, I do not. I know attorneys of all races that are good at what they do and likewise I know attorneys of all races who are not so good at what they do.
Today, we’re going to discuss the latter.
I can’t stand when an attorney makes a living off of the backs and suffering of Black people all the while holding them in utter contempt and disdain.
Up until now I have kept my mouth shut about one such attorney. I did this out of respect for the family he represented and because I didn’t see how my telling folks about his off camera behavior would help anyone’s cause–but that’s all over now.
The death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford was a tragic event. I think we can all agree no matter what side of the fence you’re on as it relates to the fault of the officers involved in Ford’s death, that parents should never have to bury their child.
It’s been eight months since Ford, who was described by family and friends as a mentally ill, was killed by police in South Los Angeles. According to the autopsy, Ford, who was Black, was shot three times — once in the right side, once in the right back and once in the right arm. The death was classified as a homicide by the coroner.
The Ford family is represented by attorney Steven Lerman.
Lerman used to be a high-profile civil rights attorney whose claim to fame was representing Rodney King–and believe me it only takes one conversation with the man or one trip to his website to know that he’s still riding high off of the King case.
Well it seems that Lerman has earned himself a complaint to the California State Bar regarding the Ezell Ford case.
Ken Sheppard, CEO of Progressive Investigation Associate Inc. has filed an official complaint with the State Bar against Lerman for his refusal to pay firm retained to conduct all of the interviews of the witnesses that the Los Angeles Police Department claimed it couldn’t find.
A little bit of background for you–Sheppard, through his firm, has been in the business of private investigations for over 27 years in California. More recently it was Sheppard and his team that busted the reality television show “Bridezilla’s” Anita Maxwell for her role in an insurance fraud scheme where it is alleged that she collected over $40,000 in undeserved worker’s compensation benefits.
Sheppard’s firm has a top notch reputation when it comes to being able to complete hard to do investigations and was recommended to Lerman by Roger Clark, a well known expert on police procedure and police tactics.
Before I get into the deets surrounding Lerman’s Bar complaint, I want to say that the Lermans of the world don’t hang out in the hood chasing ambulances and listening to police scanners to know where to show up to promise us millions if we just sign on the dotted line. No, that’s what they keep a thirsty group of Uncle Toms on retainer to do for them.
You see the Uncle Toms, much like some of these news van tracking and camera hunting so-called community activists, chase the ambulances and the police scanners. They’re Black so they blend in and they convince families in the midst of their tragedies to sign on the dotted line with the attorney paying the Uncle Tom the most money on the downlow to snag the case for them.
And the Ezell Ford case was no different.
There was an Uncle Tom, who shall remain nameless because quite frankly he isn’t worth the additional Google mentions putting him on my blog would give him, who brought the Ford family to Lerman.
This Uncle Tom likes to refer to himself as some sort of diplomat in these types of cases. With the Fords, he doesn’t want you talking to them unless it goes through him and then he goes to Lerman and then comes back to you like he made the decision when really Lerman did. He’s a clinger, a hanger-oner of sorts who thinks he’s really doing big things.
You can thank this Uncle Tom as being one of the main reasons that the Ezell Ford name and story never really went nationwide (or countywide for that matter) much like deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and now Walter Scott did.
I personally witnessed this Uncle Tom straight up disparage and bad talk the police brutality activists including Black Lives Matter for holding protests and speaking out about the death of Ezell Ford–basically echoing the tone of his Massuh.
It was also this Uncle Tom who said that 102.3 KJLH wasn’t “big enough” for the Fords and that they need to be thinking national when it comes to media. He said the Front Page with Dominique DiPrima show wasn’t big enough and that the Fords need to be reaching beyond Black people.
Here’s how it works for these type of situations in the media–you start local and go national.
The reason why the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Walter Scott became national news and lasted beyond the typical 24-hour news cycle, aside from having the video, is because nothing leads a newscast like a grieving mother. It may sound brutal and uncaring, but it’s the truth. The moment Lerman and Uncle Tom decided that the Fords shouldn’t do media, they essentially handicapped the Ford’s case. There’s only so many things that any producer, reporter or talking head can come up with to say when you don’t have the family to speak on the tragic loss of their loved one. That’s what the public wants to see and that who the public really wants to hear from. Lerman going on the news doesn’t and didn’t galvanize or move Black people to take to the streets and take action. Those that did, did it because of a personal connection with the Ford family they were able to share with others.
If it wasn’t for those community activists that Lerman and Uncle Tom despise so much, Ezell Ford would have just been another Black man in Los Angeles dead by the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department. The media that Ezell Ford’s case did get is mainly thanks to those community activists–not Uncle Tom and not Lerman.
And once the community activists stopped taking to the streets and protesting like with everything else Ford’s name quietly slipped out of the news.
But back to Ken Sheppard and Progressive Investigation Associate Inc.
Sheppard has filed a State Bar complaint against Lerman after Lerman refused to pay his bill.
Sheppard’s firm up until now has conducted all of the interviews of the witnesses regarding the Ford death, including those witnesses who will not talk to the LAPD.
The first witness they interviewed was Leroy Hill, Jr. who was killed last month on 65th Street and Broadway in South Los Angeles in what’s being labeled a gang shooting. In addition to Hill, they’ve interviewed a number of other witnesses for Lerman. Interviews that Lerman has on DVD and will be using for the Ford’s wrongful death case against the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles.
It’s also worth noting that Lerman did try to get the Omar Abrego family to sign with him.
Never one to take a trip to the hood unless it’s absolutely mandatory I’m told (that’s what Uncle Tom is for), Lerman sent Sheppard to Abrego’s house to speak with his wife.
The wife, according to Mr. Sheppard, was getting ready to attend a rally and march for Omar Abrego but Lerman wanted her to come to his office and sign papers retaining his services.
It was more important to the wife to participate in the march and that, according to Sheppard, pissed off Lerman who told him that they didn’t need that bitch and to leave.
He thinks that Omar Abrego’s wife heard Lerman yelling on the phone.
That was August 25, 2014 and as you see, the Abrego’s are not represented Lerman today, now are they?
And just so that we are bird-flying-into-a-glass-window clear, Lerman has a history of sordid tactics when it comes to getting clients.
The Los Angeles Times reported back in 1991 how Lerman was accused of using unethical tactics to get hired in another high-profile case of alleged misconduct by law officers.
In a complaint filed last week with the State Bar of California, lawyer Geraldine Green alleged that Steven Lerman used “outrageous” and “reprehensible” means to lure away a client who was expected to file a lawsuit in the death of Keith Hamilton, a mentally ill man killed Aug. 13 by sheriff’s deputies.
The complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, contends that Lerman pressured Hamilton’s mother, Clara Maxie, into retaining him. The complaint said Lerman made a “steady barrage” of phone calls to Maxie in the days after the shooting and that the calls persisted even after Maxie informed Lerman that she already had legal representation.
Lerman also sent Maxie a large floral arrangement “to further his solicitation,” according to the complaint, and finally dispatched a limousine to bring Maxie to his office where he “wore her down” by disparaging Green’s ability to handle the case.
From day one after Uncle Tom snagged the Ford case for Lerman it seems to have been a pain in his ass.
I’m told by the investigators hired to work on the case that he didn’t want to drive his Mercedes-Benz over to the Ford’s because he was a afraid of how it would look. Whenever he was in South Los Angeles he was always hiding behind someone and looking like a fish out of water.
Even though he bragged to one of the private investigators that he was one of the few white attorneys that goes to the ghetto and get his hands dirty.
Except that he doesn’t. He let’s Uncle Tom get his hands dirty and shows to take the glory.
Witness have told me how he complained about spending $40,000 on Ezell’s funeral.
The day of the funeral Lerman rode to the cemetery with the private investigators and acted a straight fool in the car.
Two witnesses confirm that he spent much of the journey there bragging about his cocaine use, how much money he has and the number of women he has sex with.
At the funeral, I am told that there was some altercation between family members–as these things often happen at funerals with emotions riding high and all. Well Lerman I’m told apparently thought he was whispering to his assistant, some overweight Hispanic guy, and said something to the effect of this is what happens when you get a bunch of these people together.
This is not a man who should be representing Black people in any matter, much less in a wrongful death lawsuit against the police department.
There’s a since of irony in all of this because recently the attorney for CHP beating survivor Marlene Pinnock, Caree Harper, has been in the news after a judge declared her fee excessive and basically chastised and embarrassed her from the bench before throwing her in jail for two days. And even though Ms. Pinnock recently let everyone know that she’s more than pleased with her attorney’s work and is trying to move on with her life, you have the naysayers jumping on the bandwagon.
Caree Harper is a Black attorney whose fees are no different (I’m willing to bet they are probably less) than those white and/or Jewish attorneys that Black people love to run to with their legal cases.
However, Attorney Harper to my knowledge doesn’t make fun of her client or her client’s family. There have been no reports of her talking behind Ms. Pinnock’s back or having to send emissaries to meet with Ms. Pinnock because she’s too scared to travel into certain parts of Los Angeles. Oh wait–that’s right! Caree is Black and so is Ms. Pinnock. Which is not to say that Black attorneys can’t be racist towards their own people but that is not the case here.
On the other hand, here’s a white attorney who obviously has a problem with Black people while he’s making his fortune off of our troubles–our deaths. That is some bullshit.
We as a people have to stop allowing ourselves to be tricked into believing that because an attorney sends us flowers or a limousine to pick us up that they have our best interests at heart. Just because an attorney is white and/or Jewish doesn’t mean that attorney is the best attorney for job. And we definitely have to stop letting Uncle Tom sell us out to the highest bidder.
Any attorney who calls himself a civil rights attorney and is proud to have the gratitude of one of the most notorious police chief’s in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department, Darryl Gates, for keeping Rodney King out media does not need to be representing Black people in any case dealing with the police. Period.
As for Ken Sheppard and his firm, Lerman knows he owes them the money. I have all of the text messages to prove it and then some.
Progressive Investigation Associate Inc. is a Black owned firm with an impeccable reputation for getting the job done. Lerman wouldn’t have any of the interviews of the witnesses in the Ford case if it wasn’t for the work of Sheppard and his team and he needs to compensate them for their time and work just like he’s expecting to be compensated. I’d like to see Lerman get ANYONE from 65th Street and Broadway to talk to him about what they saw that night. Exactly.
As for the rest of us, there’s no shortage of good, honest and hardworking attorney’s out there. Do your homework. All that glistens isn’t gold and just because it’s white doesn’t mean it’s right.
As for my media friends, I’ve got copies of text messages from Steven Lerman to Ken Sheppard, the official complaint filed with the California State Bar and more. Holla!