Still, both Mr. Thompson’s skill and aspirations may lie as much beyond the legal realm as within it. As attorney for Sherr-una Booker, a client he took on virtually pro bono, Mr. Thompson was less a legal resource than a trusted adviser and spokesperson, dealing with the press and managing the message. I didn’t feel like I could trust many people,” Ms. Booker told The Observer. “People were just hounding me, on top of me, and just all over me … I felt confident and secure, and as soon as he stepped in, Ken understood how to deal with the media. He had a rapport.”
Mr. Thompson’s standing in the black community has also been ascendant. He is a member of the Christian Cultural Center, a hugely influential, predominantly black megachurch in the Flatlands neighborhood of Brooklyn. With a congregation of more than 30,000 members, it is not a bad place for an ambitious lawyer to get to know the borough’s power base. It was there that Ms. Diallo first appeared in public, at a July 28 press conference.
“Ken has been with us for about 10 years,” said the church’s pastor and CEO, A.R. Bernard. “He and his family became part of the ministry when he really began to get high-profile cases. I remember that Louima case. We sat and talked, and I spoke to him as a mentor, and that really began a much closer relationship than pastor and casual parishioner.
“In a large congregation such as ours, many of those cases came as a result,” added Rev. Bernard. “You take the case with the steam pipe explosion, right? Regular family of our church. You take another case with Macy’s,” he said referring to a class action suit filed by Mr. Thompson’s firm against the department store chain, which also came to Mr. Thompson through the church. Democratic State Senator John Sampson is also a congregant.
“I will say that we’ve discussed it,” said Rev. Bernard, when asked about Mr. Thompson’s political prospects. “That’s as far as I’ll go.” According to Rev. Bernard, Mr. Thompson “keeps a small circle of relationships, purposely. And he has to, especially with the aspirations that he has going forward in terms of serving people.”
“I think its just kind of assumed,” Mr. Goodstadt added.
For his part, Mr. Thompson denies any immediate political ambitions. “Down the road, maybe, when I’m 60,” he said. “I got small kids, I’ve got a brownstone in Brooklyn.”
I’m a lawyer,” he added emphatically.
In the meantime, Mr. Thompson, on behalf of Ms. Diallo, has filed a civil suit in Bronx Supreme Court, seeking unspecified damages from Dominique Strauss-Kahn. “I look forward to trying this case,” said Mr. Thompson, in trial lawyer mode once again. “I really do. I look forward to standing in front of a jury describing how a hard-working woman who came here from Africa because of the promise of America, who never had any issues for three years at that hotel walked into that room after she was told no one was in there and was violently attacked … I looked forward to telling that to a jury, because one thing I have is that faith in the jury system.”