Disciplinary Actions — December 2014 State Bar list (verbatim from the State Bar of Texas)
General questions regarding attorney discipline should be directed to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office, toll-free (877) 953-5535 or (512) 453-5535. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals may be reached at (512) 475-1578. Information and copies of actual orders are available at www.txboda.org. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct may be contacted toll-free, (877) 228-5750 or (512) 463-5533. Please note that persons disciplined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct are not necessarily licensed attorneys.Houston area discipline:
On Sept. 4, 2014, the Hon. Denise Pratt [#16238500], former judge of the 311th District Court, Houston, Harris County, was issued a public reprimand by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for failing to be diligent and failing to timely execute the business of the court in violation of Article V, Section 1-a(6)A of the Texas Constitution. The commission found that Judge Pratt’s decisional delays, which inclu-ded a failure to timely issue orders, renditions, and findings of fact in numerous family law cases pending before her court, were unreasonable and unjustified; that Judge Pratt’s frequent tardiness and cancelation of hearings and trials contributed to the court’s enormous backlog; and that her dismissal for want of prosecution of more than 600 cases on Dec. 30-31, 2013, without notice to the parties or their attorneys, failed to comply with the law under Canon 2A, demonstrated a lack of professional competence in the law under Canon 3B(2), and deprived litigants of their right to be heard under Canon 3B(8). The commission noted that prompt disposition of cases is critical to the parties appearing in court, especially when vulnerable children are involved, and necessary to prevent backlogs that interfere with the administration of justice. The commission also noted that a judge who fails to show up for court hearings, appears late to court, or delays making decisions and signing orders in cases involving the rights of parents and the best interests of children, causes harm and a great disservice to parties, lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and other judges.
On Sept. 15, 2014, Melonie Dwan Jones [#24032483], 49, of Sugar Land, was disbarred in three separate disciplinary actions composed of multiple cases. An evidentiary panel of the District 5 Grievance Committee found that in all three disciplinary matters, Jones failed to keep her clients reasonably informed about the status of their legal matters; failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from the clients about their legal matters; failed to explain the status of the legal matters to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the clients to make informed decisions regarding the representation; engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; failed to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure; and engaged in the practice of law when her right to practice had been administratively suspended for failure to timely pay required fees and assessments or for failure to comply with Article XII of the State Bar rules relating to mandatory continuing legal education. The panel found that, upon receiving funds in which some of the clients had an interest, Jones failed to promptly notify the clients; failed to promptly deliver to the clients funds that they were entitled to receive; failed to hold funds, belonging at least in part to the clients, that were in Jones’s possession in connection with the representation separate from her own property; and distributed funds, belonging at least in part to the clients, that were in Jones’s possession in connection with the representation to persons or entities who were not entitled to receive them by virtue of the representation or by law. The panel found that Jones failed to abide by some clients’ decisions of whether to accept an offer to settle the clients’ legal matters and that she knowingly disobeyed a ruling by a tribunal and committed a serious crime or other criminal act that reflects adversely on her honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer. Jones violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.02(a)(2), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.14(a), 1.14(b), 1.14(c), 3.04(d), 8.04(a)(2), 8.04(a)(3), 8.04(a)(8), and 8.04(a)(11). She was ordered to pay $60,955 in restitution and $3,944.99 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.
On Oct. 9, 2014, Ty Alexander Gibson [#24083069], 28, of Houston, agreed to a 28-month, 15-day partially probated suspension effective Nov. 1, 2014, with the first four months and 15 days actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that Gibson ordered, encouraged, or permitted conduct by a non-lawyer that would have been a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by Gibson; paid a non-lawyer to solicit and refer prospective clients; accepted or continued employment in a matter when that employment was procured in a manner contrary to the disciplinary rules; committed a criminal act that reflects adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer; and engaged in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation and that constitutes barratry as defined by the law of this state. Gibson violated Rules 5.03(b)(1), 7.03(b), 7.06(a), 8.04(a)(2), 8.04(a)(3), and 8.04(a)(9). He agreed to pay $2,000 in attorneys’ fees and $620.80 in direct expenses.
On Sept. 15, 2014, Charles L. Thorn [#19963700], 61, of Webster, received a two-year probated suspension effective Oct. 1, 2014. An evidentiary panel of the District 7 Grievance Committee found that complainant hired Thorn for representation regarding two traffic citations. In representing complainant, Thorn neglected the legal matters entrusted to him by failing to provide legal services for complainant and failing to keep complainant reasonably informed about the status of the legal matters. Thorn violated Rules 1.01(b)(1) and 1.03(a). He was ordered to pay $100 in restitution and $1,300 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.
Full Article & Source:
Eleven Texas lawyers & four judges disciplined