Don’t Make a $1 Million Bet You Can’t Keep

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July 30, 2010 – Just as you caution your clients to watch what they say when being recorded for an interview, lawyers need to police themselves as well. A Florida criminal defense lawyer may have learned this lesson the hard way after pledging a $1 million bet.

The story begins with James Cheney Mason, a criminal defense lawyer representing a man who was accused of murdering 4 people in Orlando. The defendant was said to have used an alias to fly from Atlanta to Orlando, commit the murders, fly back to Atlanta, and make the journey from the airport to a LaQuinta hotel in less than 28 minutes.

Mason’s supposed challenge came in the form of a Dateline NBC interview where he said the 28-minute drive wasn’t possible. The statement broadcast on the news show was taken as a serious challenge by former law student Dustin Kolodziej who interpreted Mason’s assertion of “I challenge anybody to show me, I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it,” as an oral contract.

After seeing the interview, Kolodziej took the supposed challenge and recorded his drive, using the same route as the defendant, and completed the journey from the airport to LaQuinta in less than 30 minutes. Now Kolodziej is asking Mason to make good on his bet.

Mason claims the interview was edited, and the full statement was, “State’s burden of proof. If they can do it, I’ll challenge ‘em. I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it.” He also claims that the challenge was aimed at prosecutors about the travel time, and it was just a joke, not a real bet.

Kolodziej isn’t backing down with his challenge. The South Texas College of Law graduate filed suit in late June with the federal court in Atlanta. The breach of contract suit holds Mason to an oral contract that would hold him liable to hold up on his end of the $1 million bet.


Don’t make promises you can’t keep on national TV.


Let this story be a reminder that everything you say -whether it’s on TV, radio, in a print ad, or on the Internet – can always come back to haunt you. Of course, all of these venues of speech can also be a great asset to your legal marketing! Make sure that the content you’re attaching your name and face to is reflective of the quality of your legal services.

Many lawyers have made themselves “legal celebrities” in the media and online just by doing their job to the highest degree. When you promote your legal expertise through quality, relevant content and distribute it properly you’ll start to gain notoriety yourself!

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