Questioning Quanell X about his role

October 17, 2008 6:03:10 AM PDT
A lawsuit is bringing up questions about money and the role of self-described community activist Quanell X.Lawyers say he's been paid for publicizing a controversial case

A receipt of the money was part of papers filed in a new lawsuit by two brothers who successfully sued the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Erik and Sean Ibarra are suing attorney Lloyd Kelley claiming breach of contract. Earlier this year, Kelley helped them win a large cash settlement. The Ibarra's claim Kelley overcharged them.

The paperwork included documentation that Quanell X was paid a $20,000 consultation fee for that original case.

Both he and we have been calling Quanell X a community activist for years, but is he only that? Or does a new lawsuit blur the line?

He has been on the front lines of some of the city's most high profile cases, fighting injustice, racism and even getting accused murderers to open up. But there may be more to Quanell X than meets the eye. A lawsuit sheds new light on some of Quanell X's activities.

In a lawsuit filed this week, the defendants, Erik and Sean Ibarra opened the door. It alleges their former attorney, Lloyd Kelley, whom they are now suing, expensed $20,000 for Quanell. The reason is consultation fees. In an interview Kelley told us that covered a number of Quanell's services including organizing this protest rally outside the Harris County Jail, consulting on the trial but most importantly drumming up publicity.

"You think $20,000 is some excessive profit for a guy that sat there in the trials and has the courtroom packed with people so that this was not going to go under the radar screen which is what the county hoped," Kelley asked.

So what does that make Quanell X?

"It is not what I call a community activist," said Professor Garth Jowett of the University of Houston school of communications. "A community activist would do that and not receive a private fee."

I asked Jowett what a person is called who gets paid to draw media attention.

"That would be a publicity of press agent," Jowett replied.

In fact, Quanell is known for getting the media to show up. Thursday he dramatically defended a pastor friend but denied profit.

I asked him if the pastor paid him to defend him.

"No not at all, the pastor did not pay me a dime," Quanell X replied.

He also denied what Kelley paid him for.

"I did work on the Ibarra Brother case as a jury consultant, but there was no $20,000 paid to me for a protest march, that's not true," he replied.

He wouldn't say how much he's been paid and when pressed, he kept walking away.

Willey: Are you a community activist or are you a public relations person because it looks like you're a public relations person when you get paid for publicity.

Quanell: Jessica, Jessica I hear what you're saying and I understand the line of questioning you have but Jessica what I am going to do is what I said I would do. It's inappropriate to make public comments about any of that until I speak to.

Willey: But you have done this for years so do you get paid to put on these press conferences? Quanell: No I do not.

Willey: To get the media here?

Quanell: I do not charge for press conferences, never have.

Willey: But why doesn't the pastor call us on his own then?

Quannell: Because we are all brothers and we have always worked together but one thing I can assure you not a dime was given to me by anybody

Quanell X says he has not yet talked to Lloyd Kelley about the fee exposed in those court documents. He says he makes money because he's a businessman and represents people for free. They find him through a hotline, he says, and a Web site.

As far as the Ibarra lawsuit goes, they claim Lloyd Kelley charged them $256,000 instead of $130,000 as filed in the paperwork. Kelley says his expenses and fees are fair and that the Ibarra's were told they'd be responsible for costs after the court settlement.

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