'Flamboyant' Jackson attorney may play one on TV

By Tom Gantert

Legal News

George Lyons is already a high-profile attorney. Now, he may get a chance to play one on TV.

Lyons, who runs the Jackson law firm George Lyons & Associates, said seven television networks are reviewing his idea for a TV sitcom based on his small-town practice in Jackson. Two pilot episodes have already been shot, and Lyons said he is the star of the show despite not having any professional acting experience.

The show is tentatively titled "Dwelle"--Lyon's middle name--and features a single black lawyer and his life in a small midwestern town. Lyons said the show is based on his experiences in Jackson.

The casting and shooting of the two pilot episodes were done in Michigan. Lyons, in the starring role, is joined by two actors.

"It was fascinating to do it and write it," Lyons said.

The idea came to him while his children were watching the comedy-drama Tyler Perry's House of Payne about 18 months ago. Lyons didn't like the show.

"Why are you guys watching this?" Lyons asked his children.

His wife, Mary, asked him, "Can you do better?"

He went to work on the script.

After the script was completed, Lyons said it was on his desk when a maintenance worker asked to read it. After doing so, the man told Lyons he knew people in the movie business and wanted them to look at it. The maintenance worker's Hollywood contact was talking to Lyons the next day, he said.

Lyons also has a friend who is a producer in the movie business, and eventually he got involved.

Lyons, 46, has a real-life story of his own that seems right out of the movies. The Hamtramck native was a high school dropout who eventually got his GED before going on to earn a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University.

He was a social worker living in Detroit when an attorney convinced him to give the law profession a chance by pointing to his Mercedes Benz that was parked next to Lyon's new Plymouth Laser. The attorney told Lyons their cars were the difference between law school and social work.

Lyons earned his law degree from Cooley Law School in 1996. He admits he first went to law school to make money. But he said when he sits next to a client who is looking at life in prison and the client says to him, 'Help me' ... "it is not about the money."

He arrived in Jackson in 1994 as a law student and started his own practice after he graduated from Cooley two years later.

"I'm a perfect example of the greatness of America," he said. "In America, you get a third and fourth chance. You get one as often as you are willing to take a chance."

Lyons worked for a Detroit law firm before he was fired after an argument with the partner.

"Remarkably enough, I ran my mouth," Lyons joked.

Lyons often represents high profile cases in Jackson. He is the attorney for Jacob Ellis, who was charged with open murder in 2011 and whose trial is currently going on. Lyons also represented Barbara Mercer, who was convicted in June of second-degree murder in a Halloween double homicide.

Jackson County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Blumer said Lyons is among a handful of court-appointed lawyers in Jackson who are on the "A-list" as far as handling capital cases.

"He is probably the most flamboyant, which may be one of the reasons his name keeps popping up in the news," Blumer said.

In Jackson's legal community, the joke is that when a judge chews out an attorney, he or she has been "Lyonized." Lyons admits he's gone to jail for lunch a couple of times.

"George is known in the legal community as an extremely talented and a forceful advocate for his clients," Blumer said. "His trial skills are respected by everyone who knows they are going to go up against him. He is ferocious in the courtroom and very talented, particularly in cross examination where a lot of lawyers are not strong."

In the double-homicide trial involving Mercer, Blumer said he thinks Lyons' cross examination of a prosecution witness was a reason the jury didn't convict Mercer of first-degree murder and allowing Mercer the chance for parole someday. Lyons attacked the witness's credibility by asked the jurors if they'd buy a car from that witness. "George and I are friends," Blumer said. "We've had some true knock down fights. But he leaves it in the court room."

Despite the publicity, Lyons said half of his practice involves civil litigation.

"But that never makes the front pages," he said.

Lyons and his wife, a Jackson realtor, have four children between the ages of 11 and 15.

If his show does make it big, Lyons has no plans of moving his practice to Hollywood.

"Oh, no," Lyons said. "I love Jackson. I love Jackson County. I will raise my family here."

Published: Thu, Jun 28, 2012

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