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When Chicago attorney Daniel Sanders met condemned murderer Anthony Porter in 1998, Porter’s future seemed bleak. His date with death was imminent, and Porter had already made his own funeral arrangements and ordered his last meal. Other lawyers had given up on Porter. But Sanders, a former software systems designer just four years out of law school, saw an injustice in the facts of Porter’s prosecution and decided to dedicate himself to saving Porter’s life. A year later, Sanders not only got Porter off death row, but also exonerated him of the double murder that had kept him behind bars for more than 16 years. The personal cost of Sanders’ crusade was considerable. By devoting himself solely to the case, he had let his general practice slide and ended up nearly bankrupt. Earlier this year, however, a chance developed for Sanders to earn some significant fees to offset all his hard, low-paying work. In March, Porter authorized the filing of a suit against the city of Chicago and its police department to seek damages for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. Sanders retained former appellate judge R. Eugene Pincham to help him. But in April, a fax unexpectedly arrived informing him and Pincham that Porter had decided that the newly formed Chicago firm of Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith & Montgomery would be taking over as lead counsel in the juicy civil case. That’s Cochran as in Johnnie Cochran, of O.J. Simpson fame. Montgomery is former Chicago Corporation Counsel James Montgomery, also a top lawyer. Sanders and Pincham did not quietly accept this hardball attempt to elbow them out of the limelight and the cash. At a June 23 motion hearing, in Circuit Court in Chicago, they challenged the substitution, alleging, in part, that Montgomery had a conflict of interest because of his former association with the city. Circuit Judge Kathy Flanagan didn’t buy that, approving the substitution of counsel and suggesting Sanders’ (and Pincham’s) remedy might lie in filing a lien for expenses and work done. Montgomery said the two lawyers were just trying to embarrass him. Cochran was not immediately available.

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