Legal Fees Drain Trust Fund For Fallen Officer’s Children

(Memphis) The community poured out its support to four little girls who lost their mother in the line of duty.

Officer Martoiya Lang was the first female Memphis Police Officer killed on the job.

The community pulled together to see that her daughters be taken care of after her death.

However, large portions of the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised to help the girls is going somewhere else.

When Officer Lang was killed serving a warrant to keep city streets clean of drugs, several organizations set out to see her four girls, Taylour, Dariyn, Naia and Xaria, would be taken care of financially despite their tragic loss.

Death benefits totaled about $500,000 for the officer, and the Memphis Police Association raised another $300,000.

Add in other benefits like social security, there should be at least a million dollars to help raise the girls.

However, just over a year since the officer’s death, there are concerns about where that money is going.

“The citizens I’m quite sure and everybody else that rose to the occasion would have liked for every penny to have gone to the welfare of the children as opposed to attorneys,” said Officer Mike Williams, Memphis Police Association.

Each of the four Lang children has a separate account set up at Shelby County Probate Court.

The judge assigned one attorney, a guardian ad litem, to see that they’re taken care of in a good manner.

However, fees and other court costs are eating away at money intended for the children.

“The way the case has unfolded clearly has added to the cost of the situation,” said Paul Boyd, Probate Court Clerk.

The case unfolded with the girl’s father and maternal grandmother vying for custody.

That battle costs the girls money.

Court records show the guardian ad litem hired to research what’s best for them, logged dozens of phone calls and trips to various houses within the city at a rate of $250 to $350 an hour.

The On Your Side Investigators uncovered fees paid to the guardian ad litem in the first six months cost $50,000, and all of it came out of the girls’ trust funds.

“Of course, when you’ve got to go to court every week, every month, those attorney fees go up,” said Boyd.

In a twist, the girls’ maternal grandfather, who never asked for it, got custody.

However, the case is not over.

The father wants to appeal, which concerns the money manager over the estate, Judy Self.

In court documents, Self said she was, ‘greatly concerned about the attorneys
and guardian fees and expenses that are anticipated to be paid from the minors’ funds. The impact of the appeal process is another unknown factor.’

Boyd said, “Child has to eat, child has to be clothed, child has to have a roof over her head. So, you have to provide for the here and now but you also have to look for the future to make sure when that child turns 18, 21, 25, whatever has been determined that there is something there for that child’s future.”

The money may run out quicker for some of Lang’s daughters than others.

The oldest daughter is named as the main beneficiary on all of he mother’s insurance policies.

The youngest, just 2 years old at the time of Officer Lang’s murder, wasn’t even included.

Boyd said, “No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Get a will. Get a plan and know when you leave this earth there is a plan for your children, a plan for your loved ones. Know where the money is going to go.”

Right now, a lot of people are worried the money raised for these four children will be gone when they need it most.

The Lang custody case is back in court in two weeks.

Darius Lang was recently arrested for domestic violence, now some family members are trying to cut off his once a week supervised visits with his three daughters.

The father of the youngest child has separate visits with her.

26 comments

  • Thomas H. Evans

    Did you really believe that the greedy Lawyers and DCS workers would let all that money go to the kids, come on, they could care less about these four girls. A very sad situation.

  • Teresa

    Why are the girls having to pay for all this mess. They didn’t ask for it all. Let those fighting in Court pay for their own court costs and attorneys fees!

  • sue

    It is despicable that the legal battles are coming out of the girls’ pockets!! I guarantee if the father was forced to pay for his own legal fees he wouldn’t push so hard for custody anymore!!

    • Candace

      For your information Sue, Darius Lang pays for his own court and attorney fees. He has not received a dime of their money. Please refrain on making comments because you and many other citizens have no idea of what is really going on.

      • Jana

        And neither do you, I am sure. Are you family? Are you in court? If so please excuse me but if not you don’t need to speak either. Either way the children didn’t ask for any of this, therefore they should not be responsible for any fee. Their money should not be touched.

      • Candace

        Jana, I’m Candace and yes I am family. I was a witness and part of my testimony was shown on the news. You are excused. Charles, where do you get your information from? Darius works EVERYDAY. Always has. I talk to my sweet cousins on a weekly basis. All of your negative comments about their father are not helping in any way. Their mom is in Heaven. Don’t crucify their father who is still here on Earth. Both families love all four girls. Please stop spreading hate through the web. Thanks.

  • John Dwyer

    The attorney’s cannot be blamed for asking and receiving the allowable fees for representation. Abraham Lincoln once said “a lawyer’s stock in trade is his time and advice.”

    There are checks and balances for how much, and how often, an attorney may charge for services rendered. (See Reasonable and Customary) There is also a means to complain to the Board of Professional Responsibility if malfeasance is suspected. Attorney’s carry very high malpractice insurance to cover intended, or unintended, situations.
    Attorney’s do not go to school- 4 years undergraduate and 3 years law school, and take a very hard bar exam to practice law for their health!

    The fault lies in who initiated or prompted the actions that necessitated this cause of action(s) in the first place. Who went after the money first, creating this mischief?

    Finally, did Officer Lang use a free website or the Police Association legal person to draw up a will or final wishes?
    We all need to expect the unexpected, and our own ultimate demise. GET A WILL!
    Family fights like this happen every single day in the Probate Courts. Hearts and “I Love You” can quickly turn to dollar signs and “I’ll sue you!”

    To be honest, these fees thus far, are very reasonable and customary. For instance, every attorney involved could seek a portion of 33 and 1/3 percent to cover their fees.THEY WOULD GET IT TOO!
    For those of you mathematically challenged…..If there was $300,000 in a fund, well over $100,000 could be sought by the attorney’s.

    Attorney’s are not the monsters we make them out to be—-they just represent some of them!

    • Thomas H. Evans

      Thanks “Judge” for your very informed comments on this topic. Obviously a lot of the comments made are based on emotions since most are not attorneys or judges; but even a “Will” wouldn’t stop what’s happening here.

      • John Dwyer

        Thank you Mr. Evans for the compliment, but I am not a Judge nor an attorney.However, you did raise a point I forgot to mention.

        In the end, the Judge in this matter is going to have to assess Court costs—State litigation fees—County court fees—Clerk Filing fees—Process servers to be paid—Filing taxes. If there is an appeal, a lot of costs and fees will have to be paid also, along with bonds to insure the remnant of the monies involved.

        As to emotion I agree, there is a lot involved emotionally here. I call everyone’s attention to the Statue of Justice….she wears a blindfold and the scales she holds are never equal, or balanced. One scale is always tipped in favor of the one who presents the most proof, or evidence. Justice is cold and unattached to anything except the cold hard facts. The blindfold she wears is because it should not matter who puts the evidence before her, there should never be partiality to one side or the other.

        I will be surprised if this ends up with these kids getting anywhere near $300,000 at the conclusion.
        Most unfortunate business because, if no one carries the burden of proof, all of these fees and taxes will still have to be paid regardless, as will the various attorney’s.

  • evette

    Is it true the “father” did DNA test on the older girls and found out not only was the baby not his (which was already reported, they were seperated) but the other three were not his also?

  • Myself

    why is the state allowing the family to spend the money on legal fees. The judge has granted the individual custody and if anybody else wants them. let them pay their own fees. My questions is do they want the girls or the money

  • Mem Pride

    the state are not allowing the family to spend any of the money on legal fee. It is what the court has allowed the guardian ad litem to do.

  • Christine

    Since their mother died in the line of duty there should have been attorneys out there that would have done it for free. If those children would of had Judge Joe Brown representing them, this would not be happening. The father is greedy and so is the mother. What the police union should of done is asked the general public to U.S. Savings Bond.

  • MikeBarret

    Just awful. $250-$350 an hour? Are you serious? Leslie Ballin doesn’t even make that much. This is preposterous. Who is the guardian ad litem making all this money, this needs to be public info.

  • Soul Beat

    WOW!! The love of money is the root of evil. It is so sad for these kids. As a dad and a man I will pray for these kids. I feel whether the dad’s just came in there kids life or been there all the time the kids will need there dad as time go on. This thing with the attorney’s are BULL >>> we live in a time now of email and fax now there are times the attorney have to go to court but please there is no reason for the attorney to be paid that kind of money. There are murder cases in this town that don’t coast that much. All these kids will know is pain which will turn to anger which will turn to hurt then what, how will they turn out in life? Ever one have took from these kids stole from these kids. It is so said to read some one say HEY THE ATTORNEY’S GOT TO GET PAID. I say unto you for all that hurt these kids God will see about you Matthew 18:6

    Now with that said yes attorneys must be paid for there time and some time yes it will coast but not for this case.

    There mom taken there money taken God please watch over these kids and bless them.

  • not sure

    Sounds about right attorneys get all the money then there is always the relative that is in it for the money. if there was no money you think a parasite that is their father would be fighting so hard for these kids custody. He just sees allot of money in raising them. But what he forgets he as the father has an obligation to raise his kids financially, so most likely he will see no cash it will all go into probate trust until they are of legal age or the court supervise any funds distributed out for their need such as college or a car to go to college. That’s what usually happens when children come into large sums of money. Then that attorney ought to be ashamed of them selves charging so much money of the children of an officer who paid with her life protecting Memphis from the dangerous thrash that liters the streets.

  • Hard Truths

    You would not believe the number of relatives who turn out when someone has been killed and there’s money to fight over. It’s like a second funeral in the courtroom. Lots of costumes and acting out.

  • John Dwyer

    From The Commercial Appeal….”Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize should be placed in a safe deposit box controlled by the court pending the outcome of a legal dispute over who owns the items, a judge said Wednesday….”

    This should have been decided within the family, and in private, long before now.
    Just goes to demonstrate that no matter how legendary the family is, nor how destitute, people fight over the remnants of ones lifetime accumulations.
    Once again the courts are called upon to decide the matter in a fair and equitable manner.

    I once read where a man told his followers to leave their earthly goods behind and follow him. He also said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven.

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