The Texas Supreme Court has changed the state’s disciplinary procedural rules to give attorney disciplinary counsel the power to subpoena lawyers who are under investigation, and create new guidelines for imposing sanctions.
The Texas Legislature called upon those changes to the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure last year when it passed the State Bar of Texas’ Sunset review bill. The changes are slated to become effective for any grievance filed on or after June 1.
PDF: State’s Disciplinary Rules Now Allow for Subpoena of Lawyers Under Investigation _ Texas Lawyer
Disbarment might be on the horizon for Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, because of his criminal conviction on 11 felony fraud-related charges.
Uresti, a personal injury attorney, fraudulently steered his clients to invest in FourWinds Logistics, a hydraulic fracking business that turned out as a Ponzi scheme. He pleaded not guilty, claiming he didn’t know about the scam until it was too late. One of Uresti’s lawyers has pledged to appeal Uresti’s convictions for wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and securities fraud violations.
Texas Lawyer spoke with Wayne Paris, managing member of Gillis Paris & Heinrich in Houston, who’s practiced legal ethics law for 40 years, about what an attorney disciplinary case against Uresti might look like and the possible outcome. Here are his answers, edited for brevity and clarity.
PDF: Here’s What an Attorney Discipline Case Against Texas Sen
A West Texas lawyer who was convicted of forging a will to steal the estate of a multimillionaire now faces disbarment, while also seeking a new trial in his criminal case.
John Stacy Young of Sweetwater, currently incarcerated in the Tom Green County Jail in San Angelo, is arguing in a motion for new trial that a new witness has come forward saying her ex-husband, another Sweetwater lawyer, actually forged the multimillionaire’s will. Young pleaded not guilty in the case.
PDF: Lawyer Convicted of Forging Millionaire_s Will Faces Disbarment _ Texas Lawyer
The new year has brought a new procedure for changing attorney disciplinary rules and the referendum process that gives lawyers the vote on rule changes.
The Texas Supreme Court and State Bar of Texas have appointed members to the new Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda, which the Texas Legislature created last year in Senate Bill 302. That legislation—the bar’s sunset review bill—also spelled out a new way for the committee to draft rule changes, take feedback from lawyers and seek approval from the state bar and supreme court.
PDF: New Disciplinary Committee Members Appointed by SCOTX and State Bar _ Texas Lawyer
A federal prosecutor who had a secret romance with a married FBI agent has been barred from practicing law for six months after the Louisiana Supreme Court found she committed professional misconduct.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mignonne Griffing of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana in Shreveport failed to tell her bosses or defense counsel in two high-profile public corruption cases about her love interests with the FBI agent, who testified in her cases. When the affair came to light, she was dishonest or misled then-U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley about the relationship, according to court documents in the attorney disciplinary case.
PDF: Assistant U.S. Attorney_s Affair with FBI Agent Results in Bar Suspension _ Law
The Commission for Lawyer Discipline is seeking to take the law license of an Austin solo practitioner who was indicted in a murder-for-hire plot, but instead received deferred adjudication for possessing and intending to deal heroin.
In a petition for compulsory discipline, the commission noted that James N. Walker was indicted in Travis County on May 20, 2016, for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in penalty group 1 in an amount between 4 and 200 grams. It’s a first-degree felony that could bring up to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Published on TexasLawyer.com on Aug. 18, 2017.
PDF: Austin Solos License in Jeopardy
Mark Womack, a Houston solo practitioner who beat back a legal malpractice case after eight years of litigation, said he’s gratified that the State Bar of Texas filed a disciplinary lawsuit against the lawyer who represented the plaintiff who sued him.
The Commission for Lawyer Discipline sued Houston solo practitioner Armando Lopez in Harris County District Court, alleging he violated rules that ban a lawyer from bringing a frivolous lawsuit, lying to a court or being dishonest, fraudulent, deceitful or misrepresentative. The original petition said that Lopez represented a plaintiff in an underlying malpractice suit against Womack, who eventually filed the grievance against Lopez.
“It was serious misconduct,” said Womack. “I’m gratified the state bar has made the decision to enforce the rules in this fashion. I think it shows the system works.”
Published on TexasLawyer.com on Aug. 8, 2017.
PDF: Disciplinary Suit Filed Against Lawyer for Filing Frivolous Legal Mal Case _ Texas Lawyer