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Reichman and Cannady are intellectual property attorneys representing big names like Coca-Cola and UPS. That enables them to sometimes take such cases as a prisoner's rights one. Regardless of how much time it will take to investigate a death like Lee's -- and it will likely take hundreds of hours over several years -- the two attorneys can afford not to get paid.
But if a judge or jury awards Kitchen decently for her son's death, Reichman and Cannady have decided they will take a small cut -- and use it to establish a foundation of attorneys who regularly take prison rights' cases, pro bono. They hope the foundation will bring systemic change that has so far been stymied.
Reichman and Cannady filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in January on behalf of Johnnie Kitchen. The lawsuit alleges that Autry guards, their supervisors and the warden subjected Lee to cruel and unusual punishment: "The deliberate indifference by Defendants to the safety and constitutional rights of Mr. Lee ultimately led to the brutal attack and gruesome death Mr. Lee suffered."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but Reichman says he's looking for at least seven figures.
"You have to make it in their financial best interest," Reichman says, "to make them comply with the law and their own regulations."
On the morning of Feb. 7, 2002, Johnnie Kitchen woke from what she describes as a strange dream. The dream -- like the arrival of Reichman and Cannady -- seems too amazing to comprehend. "I don't think I'm crazy," she says. "I know I'm not crazy."
In the dream, she's sitting on a bed made up with crisp white sheets. There is a sink and toilet in the room. Her son walks in. He's wearing a white T-shirt, white boxers and white knee socks. He's fresh from the shower.
Flopping next to her on the bed, which he used to do when he still lived at home, he looked up at her.
"Well mama, all of this is about over," he said. "Everything's gonna be all right."
"Yeah, Boo," she answered, evoking the name she called him when he was little. "Everything's gonna be all right."
Kitchen woke and looked at the clock. It was sometime after 5 a.m. It was close to the time guards discovered her son's body.
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