The Big Deal About Bill Diehl
Love him or hate him (and there are plenty of people doing the latter), attorney Bill Diehl is a pretty big deal in the Charlotte legal world. From Bruton Smith to former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth -- who, ahem, paid someone to kill his pregnant girlfriend -- Diehl's list of clients is long and notorious. Now, as Diehl prepares to rep driver Jeremy Mayfield versus NASCAR and continues fighting for Gloria Pace King, the former CEO of the United Way of Central Carolinas, we thought it'd be a good time to look back at other butts he's covered, for better or worse.
Families of eastern airlines crash casualties
An Eastern Airlines plane crashed three miles short of the Charlotte Douglas runway, killing sixty-nine people. Diehl got Eastern to pay out $5 million in compensatory damages, the biggest verdict ever (at the time) against an airline.
1988 to present Represented Smith in his divorce from his first wife, Bonnie. "He did well," Diehl says of the Speedway Motorsports mogul. Smith got the home, the businesses, and his fortune, while she got a "nice stipend," says Diehl. Diehl still represents the eccentric billionaire, and even helped Smith in his quest against the city of Concord to get the zMAX Dragway approved.
Defended Dortch, better known as the right-hand man for Praise the Lord ministry's Jim Bakker. Dortch was sentenced to eight years in prison for mail and wire fraud after agreeing to testify against Bakker in a plea deal.
1990 Defended John Isley, aka John Boy, of the nationally syndicated The Big Show (WRFX 99.7) on drug charges. Diehl got the court to dismiss the charges as long as the popular radio host did some good deeds.
Charlotte Repertory Theatre
Successfully defended Charlotte Repertory Theatre against local government officials who didn't want the theater group to perform Angels in America due to the play's homosexual subject matter and full frontal nudity. Diehl and Charlotte Rep won, and the play had an extended and sold-out run.
1997 to present Defended Hendrick in civil and criminal cases when the racing giant was convicted of trying to get preferential treatment for the Honda car dealerships he owned. Hendrick was sentenced to a year of house arrest for the criminal charges (President Clinton later pardoned him). Diehl also helped Hendrick settle dozens of civil suits with dealers across the country who said Hendrick was bribing Honda executives to get the then hard-to-come-by cars. Diehl still represents him.
1999 Successfully defended then Charlotte Hornets owner Shinn in a nationally televised civil trial in which a woman accused him of forcing her to have oral sex. Taking a cue from O.J.'s late lawyer Johnnie Cochran, Diehl infamously said, "If she ain't bitin', she ain't fightin'."
2000Represented the former Carolina Panther in the custody portion of his murder trial. Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to kill his girlfriend, who was pregnant with their unborn child. The baby survived, and before the trial Diehl helped Carruth get the right to see the baby from jail. Carruth is still in prison.
2000 Successfully defended the Charlotte Hornets player, who was accused of drag racing teammate Bobby Phills, who died in a head-on collision with another driver. The judge convicted Wesley of reckless driving. He had to pay court costs and got community service, with no jail time served.
Represented Bill Belk's wife in divorce proceedings. She got
custody of the kids and he had to pay alimony. Belk, now a judge, and Diehl remain adversaries.
Gloria Pace King
2008Represents the ousted United Way CEO. Diehl says they're trying to get money she is owed, including her now hotly contested pension. King is also suing several people for libel, including Mac Everett, who took over at the United Way after she was booted.