Originally created 08/22/06

Attorney defends those who say media has scorned them

ATLANTA - The woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape. Olympic security guard Richard Jewell. John and Patsy Ramsey.

Their common thread? Lin Wood, the attorney who specializes in defending people who say they were scorned by the media.

The Ramseys' attorney is in the spotlight again after John Mark Karr was arrested in Thailand last week and said he was with 6-year-old JonBenet when she was killed the day after Christmas 1996 in the basement of the family's Boulder home.

"Clearly, the last 10 years of my practice have not been dull and they have often involved media frenzies not unlike the last few days," said Mr. Wood, who is a partner in the firm Powell Goldstein, whose 14th floor lobby has lately been cluttered with reporters.

Attorneys that Mr. Wood has worked with and against describe him as flamboyant, intimidating and determined. One said Mr. Wood is good at getting publicity for clients.

"Lin Wood has come a long way in adding maturity to the intimidation approach," said Thomas Kelley, a Denver attorney who represented a media company Mr. Wood once sued for libel over a Ramsey story. "In the past, I thought there was a lot more flash than fact. Now, I think there's a lot more substance than there used to be."

Like the Ramseys and their son, who were cast for years by authorities under a cloud of suspicion in JonBenet's death, Mr. Jewell's life turned upside down when the media called him a suspect in the deadly bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The bomber turned out to be anti-government extremist Eric Rudolph.

Mr. Wood said the frenzy surrounding the case was "an emotional experience," but he said he feels pride for helping restore Mr. Jewell's reputation. The former security guard was recently honored by Georgia's governor for helping move people out of harm's way after the explosion.

As he did in the Ramsey case, Mr. Wood sued media companies that published or broadcast stories about Mr. Jewell that he believed were libelous, once saying, "We're going to sue everyone from A to Z."

"If you want publicity, he's your guy," said Peter Canfield, the attorney who represents The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a pending lawsuit over stories about Mr. Jewell.

Mr. Wood said he's successful because he's always "on the right side of the case."

"I had a lot of people who questioned my decision to represent John and Patsy Ramsey and their son Burke - friends and family," Mr. Wood told the Associated Press. "But, I recognized in those people the same type of qualities as Richard Jewell. They were good people. They weren't capable of harming anyone, much less murdering their beautiful daughter."

Many of the lawsuits he has been involved in have ended with settlements, including the case of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Mr. Wood and another attorney sued Mr. Bryant for alleged mental injuries, humiliation and public scorn that a woman says she suffered after a sexual encounter with Mr. Bryant at a hotel near Vail, Colo., in June 2003. A criminal charge against Mr. Bryant was dropped.

The 53-year-old Mr. Wood received his undergraduate and law school degrees from Mercer University in Macon, Ga., where he spent his childhood until he moved to Atlanta in 1979. He spent much of his career as a trial lawyer focusing on civil litigation.


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