Texas: “Public left in dark on accused attorneys”

by Walter Olson on September 21, 2007

How pathetic is the State Bar of Texas when it comes to protecting clients from rogue lawyers? This pathetic:

Dallas attorney Bruce Patton has a clean disciplinary record, according to the State Bar’s Web site, which provides profiles of the state’s 80,000 or more practicing attorneys. But consider this before you hire him to draft your will: Patton is in state prison after being convicted of a felony two years ago….

The Texas Legislature and Supreme Court, which share a role in establishing ethics rules for attorneys, have made it so that the public stays in the dark about thousands of lawyers accused of misconduct. Bar confidentiality rules ensure that many sanctions are private and that lawyers accused of felonies can continue practicing. The Bar doesn’t require attorneys to report their criminal record or malpractice suits.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s disturbing investigation goes into considerable detail, and mentions a couple of cases that will be familiar to readers of this site: “San Antonio attorney Ted Roberts, charged with stealing $100,000 from his wife’s lovers, was recently convicted, two years after being indicted. He faces a five-year sentence. The Bar didn’t suspend him until June and is now recommending disbarment.” And: “The firm of John O’Quinn, one of the state’s wealthiest personal-injury lawyers, was ordered by an arbitration panel this summer to pay $35 million to former clients who say he overbilled them for expenses, but no mention of that order is on the Bar’s Web site.” (Yamil Berard, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 19; “Panel seeks changes in Bar’s disciplinary system for lawyers”, Aug. 19). More: GruntDoc wonders whether doctors can expect a similar concern for confidentiality.

{ 2 comments }

1 Tex Mex 09.21.07 at 1:27 pm

The Bar should at least publish or broadcast the following PSA:

“If you or a loved one obtained an adverse result because your lawyer was a felon, you may be entitled to compens… “strike that”…you may be pleased to know that your lawyer may at some later, undetermined date, be investigated by a private grievance committee, the results of which may be published at some later, undetermined time, in a vague manner, in the rear portions of an obscure trade publication available only to members of the trade, but the results will otherwise remain strictly confidential.”

Have a nice day.

2 Dr. Mary Johnson 09.21.07 at 3:24 pm

Hi Walter. You were linked by Kevin M.D.

And I have some thoughts on the question he poses (as I found it a bit disingenuous):

http://drjshousecalls.blogspot.com/2007/09/hey-kevin-hey-ed-public-is-left-in-dark.html

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