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EDITORIAL TOOK CHEAP SHOT AT LAWYER'S FIRM

Jan 1, 2001

Mobile Register

The Register's Dec. 21 editorial was misleading relative to certain key facts concerning the jury verdict against Exxon in Montgomery County Circuit and comments directed to the attorneys at Cunningham, Bounds, Yance, Crowder and Brown.

The editorial ignored the fact, as presented to the jury, that over the life of the field in question, Exxon's scheme to underpay royalties would allow it to save $1 billion and thus shortchange the state-and all of us as taxpayers the same amount. Thus the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages in the case is 3 to 1 and not the wild ratio suggested in the editorial.

I am even more disturbed by the editorial's suggestion that if the lawyers do not turn over the bulk of any fee they may earn to charity, they should be viewed as "rapacious profiteers." Their fee will be paid by the wrongdoer in the case, as it should be. The editorial writer obviously gave no thought as to what adjective he would have used if, after spending an enormous amount of time and their own money to pursue this case for the state, these attorneys had not prevailed.

So it is clear: I was formerly a partner at the Cunningham Bounds firm, and know far better than the Register's editorial board that these lawyers give back to the community and others less fortunate every day of their lives without seeking any public recognition, as is true of most every lawyer I know.

I have no interest in the outcome of this verdict. I left the firm in June of this year to become a high school basketball coach. This makes me neither rapacious nor a profiteer. Thus, I am comfortable in writing that the editorial board should collectively be ashamed of itself for the disservice that has been done to the reputations of these lawyers and to the citizens of this state.

Reggie Copeland Jr.

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