Melvin Belli's partners sue to dissolve firm, split assets

January 18, 1993|By San Francisco Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The law firm of legal gunslinger Melvin Belli is on the verge of breaking up after a squabble over admitting two lawyers to the partnership.

In papers filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court, four of the 85-year-old lawyer's partners contend that he broke the partnership agreement by continuing to practice with an attorney they had rejected for partnership and then fired. They also say his son and partner, Caesar, wrongly stopped another lawyer from joining the firm.

Fed up with these and other allegedly tyrannical tactics, the partners say they voted to dissolve the firm. Now they want a court-appointed receiver to divvy up the assets and put the firm out of business.

Adding insult to injury, the partners got a court order Friday preventing any of their colleagues -- including the publicity-hungry Belli -- from discussing the dispute.

"For the good of my clients I don't want 60 years [of law practice] to go down the drain," Mr. Belli told San Francisco Superior Court Judge Carlos Bea at a hearing on the plaintiffs' motion to seal the records.

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