Sugar Ray's former wife faces suit

January 05, 1993|By Edward L. Heard Jr. | Edward L. Heard Jr.,Staff Writer

Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard's 1990 divorce is back in court -- but this time with his former wife being sued by her own lawyer in a case that divulges for the first time the financial terms of the settlement.

Los Angeles divorce lawyer Marvin M. Mitchelson filed his suit against Juanita Leonard last month in Baltimore's U.S. District Court, alleging that she failed to pay him $250,000 for fees and expenses.

His fees were based in part on the value of Mrs. Leonard's settlement -- which the Mitchelson court papers said amounted to $7 million and three properties valued at $750,000. The lawyer said he was not fully compensated after the divorce was finalized under the terms of a contract Mrs. Leonard signed in Washington April 2, 1990.

They had agreed that Mr. Mitchelson would receive 10 percent of all money obtained through the settlement above the $4 million that Sugar Ray Leonard originally offered.

Mr. Mitchelson alleged that he was paid only a $50,000 retainer fee, and that his client -- who has since deemed their agreement void -- offered to pay him the "reasonable value" for his work, the suit said.

Mr. Leonard had supposedly withdrawn his original settlement offer before his wife hired Mr. Mitchelson, according to the lawsuit.

Mr. Mitchelson asked the court to award him $250,000, plus expenses and interest on the unpaid attorney's fees -- as well as attorney's fees for representing himself.

Ms. Leonard, whose address was given in the suit as the 4800 block of Silver Brook Way in Bowie, could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer, Ronald Jessamy, and Mr. Mitchelson also could not be reached.

In 1991, excerpts from Maryland court documents in the divorce were published by the Los Angeles Times, including allegations that the six-time world champion boxer used cocaine and an admission by Mr. Leonard that he abused his wife physically because of alcohol and drug abuse.

Mrs. Leonard issued a statement that she was "shocked and outraged" by publication of those details contained in documents sealed at the request of both parties.

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