Bench trial concludes in former law partners' fight over $10.5 million Connors' settlement

Christina Stueve Oct. 13, 2011, 7:16am


St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson must now decide the outcome of a bitter dispute between two former Belleville law partners over a $10.5 million settlement.

A bench trial in the case Constance v. Brennan concluded Thursday following closing arguments in Gleeson's fourth floor courtroom.

For six weeks, attorneys Mike Constance and Edward Brennan and their counsel have been contentiously arguing their cases.

Constance's attorney, Bruce Cook of Belleville, said to Gleeson during closing arguments that he had been "mean-spirited" throughout the trial.

"I apologize to the court," Cook said to Gleeson.

"I'm afraid that from time to time that I've treated you like a juror, and to that extent I apologize.

"Mark said in 1 Timothy 6:10 that the love of money is the root of all evil. This is a trial about greed and embezzlement.

"The evidence is that one of these men is lying. One of them is not telling the truth. I won't assume to tell you how to interpret circumstantial evidence," Cook said. "You must have a marvelous memory to be a good liar, and Mike doesn't have that."

Constance sued Brennan in April 2010 on claims he did not receive a fair share of the multi-million dollar settlement reached with former tennis star Jimmy Connors in November 2009.

Edward Brennan rose to counter Cook's argument with his own Bible verse.

"My Biblical quote will be 'the truth will set you free'," he said.

Brennan made closing arguments, while his attorney, Jeffrey Muskopf, of Lashly & Baer in St. Louis, listened.

In 1993, Brennan said he remembered opening an envelope with a check for $753,248.

"I said we're finally getting paid for the work we've done," he said. Then he said he received a check for $300,000.

"It troubles me that Mike testified under oath in 1997 that Mike did not remember the $700,000," he said.

"Your honor, the Connors' case was an epic. It took a substantial part of my life. There were many lows. There was peace in the valley for 45 days when the case was settled. I went for 13 years without contact from Constance."

Brennan said Constance was in Arizona and did not want part of any litigation. "That was his choice. Now 13 years later, he says, 'You got how much? I want part of that'."

After each attorney spoke 30 minutes, Gleeson said, "Thank you all" and left the room.

More News