John Shea's Big Case
He is the same guy now as he was then, still steadfast, loyal, and empathetic. He even still looks the same, though now that he's fifty-five, his wavy brown hair is sprinkled with gray. That makes it easy for his old friends to recognize him when they see his face plastered all over the Detroit media.
"Each federal district [court] has a federal defender, and that office is in charge of making sure that persons who can't afford their own lawyers get lawyers," Shea explains. He's been one of the attorneys on call in Detroit for "I don't know how long--probably going on twenty years."
He was asked in October 2010 if he would be willing to defend the senior Kilpatrick. "I said yes." But there was a complication: "I had been appointed to represent a witness in a related investigation." He disclosed the potential conflict to the prosecutors; since that case wasn't moving very quickly, they agreed to let him withdraw and take on Bernard's defense.
"I get paid by the taxpayers, at the princely rate of $125 an hour," he says. "No state secret there."