ST. LOUIS — A former client of St. Louis-area attorneys Albert Watkins and Michael Schwade filed a lawsuit last week, alleging his request for discreet deletion became a “media blitz” against his will.
Paul Henreid, an attorney who now represents himself, alleges in a federal lawsuit that when he hired the attorneys in 2018, he asked them to “fly under their radar” while they were trying to get a 20-year-old felony conviction out Cross out Henreid’s file. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, Watkins sent the story to reporters and gave the Post-Dispatch an interview.
The lawsuit, filed March 1, names Schwade and Watkins — an attorney known in St. Louis for never shying away from publicity or controversy — and the law firm of Kodner Watkins.
Henreid pleaded guilty to invasion of privacy in 1999 after he was accused of secretly filming sex partners through a camera attached to an alarm clock while he was a law student and part-time stripper. Henreid was also accused of showing the footage to others for entertainment.
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After the conviction, he went to great lengths to distance himself from the case, including changing his name from Henroid to Henreid in 2005, the lawsuit says. He hired Watkins and Schwade in 2018 for $5,000 to help with his eradication efforts.
In Watkins’ interview with the Post-Dispatch, he highlighted the connection between Henreid’s case and similar allegations faced by former Missouri Gov. Eric Geritens, who was in office at the time.
Attorney Albert Watkins on Tuesday May 17, 2016 in his Clayton office. Photo by Huy Mach, [email protected]
“What’s good for the governor should be good for the gander,” Watkins told Post-Dispatch in the February 2018 article. At the time, Watkins also represented the ex-husband of Mrs. Greitens, who was accused of extortion with partially nude photos.
“Watkins’ actions defeated the purpose of extinction and irreversibly damaged his own client for life,” Henreid wrote in a message to Post-Dispatch Monday, adding, rather than flying under the radar, “Watkins (Judas) has the opposite.” done and threw his client under a bus to get media attention. Watkins has betrayed fundamental duties of loyalty and confidentiality that attorneys owe their clients.”
Henreid said Watkins’ interview will likely forever appear in internet searches of Henreid’s name.
“The damage from Watkins’ narcissistic attention seeking is irreversible and lifelong because the internet takes no prisoners and never goes away,” Henreid said in his message Monday. “Watkins of all people knew that.”
Watkins told the Post-Dispatch this week it would be “imprudent” to comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit, but denied it.
“You are wrong,” he said. “This is an unfortunate price for doing business in the legal profession.”
Watkins added that a complaint by the Missouri Bar Association that Henreid filed related to the same allegations was unfounded.
The lawsuit also alleges that Watkins’ statements to the media mischaracterized Henreid’s case. The lawsuit alleges Watkins told reporters Henreid was seeking a pardon rather than an erasure — a court proceeding that can seal a person’s criminal record.
The lawsuit alleges that Henreid fired both attorneys and successfully dropped his charges in November 2018.
Henreid’s lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages for errors of law, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and negligence.
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