Editors Choice

11 Texas Lawyers Gone Rogue, the October 2020 List of Disciplined Lawyers. And then there’s the 8 You’ll Never Know About

11 Texas Lawyers and Zero Judges Disciplined (and 8 Privately Disciplined) on October 2020 List of Disciplinary Actions by the State Bar of Texas and published in the Texas Bar Journal.

LIT COMMENTARY

Soon there will be more secret slaps from the Texas Bar than there is public slaps. The Pandemic is stifling the Bar into inaction as the disciplinary figures are so low this year.  As usual, top of the list is thievin’ lawyers. They can’t keep their clients cash out of their personal pockets.

11 Texas Lawyers & Zero Judges Disciplined on October 2020 List (and 8 Privately Disciplined)

Disciplinary Actions — October 2020  Texas State Bar lists

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

BODA

On August 6, 2020, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed an agreed judgment of suspension against Houston attorney Traci Leigh Bransford [#02897520], 56.

On or about February 26, 2020, an agreed disposition memorandum order for a suspension without terms was entered in Case No. CL20-452 before the Circuit Court for the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, in a matter styled In the Matter of Traci Leigh Bransford Marquis, VSB Docket No. 19-010-115084, suspending Bransford from the practice of law for 30 days.

BODA Cause No. 64637.

Rest of the state

BODA

On July 31, 2020, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals issued an agreed judgment of revocation and active suspension from the practice of law for Austin attorney Kirby Jerome Portley [#24085865], 36, from an agreed judgment of partially probated suspension by an evidentiary panel of the District 9-2 Grievance Committee. BODA Cause No. 64516.

On August 6, 2020, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed a default judgment of disbarment against Palm Springs, Florida, attorney David Andrew Jaynes [#10595790], 66.

On or about May 23, 2019, an order was issued by the Supreme Court of Florida in The Florida Bar, Petitioner(s) v. David Andrew Jaynes, Respondent, Case No. SC20-254, Lower Tribunal No(s): 2019-90,029(OSC), disbarring Jaynes from the practice of law in the state of Florida. BODA Cause No. 64476.

On August 6, 2020, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed a default judgment of disbarment against Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, attorney Lon Darley [#05384850], 68. On or about June 10, 2019, an order approving resignation from Oklahoma Bar Association pending disciplinary proceedings was entered by the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma in a matter styled State of Oklahoma ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Association, Complainant, v. Lon Jackson Darley, III, Respondent, Case No. SCBD-6802, disbarring Darley from the practice of law in Oklahoma. BODA Cause No. 64477.

On August 17, 2020, the Board of Disciplinary Appeals signed an agreed judgment of probated suspension against Englewood, Colorado, attorney Gwendolyn Jean Shotwell [#18304210], 58.

On or about November 8, 2019, an order approving conditional admission of misconduct and imposing sanctions under Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 251.22 was entered in the Colorado Supreme Court in a matter styled Complainant:

The People of the State of Colorado, Respondent: Gwendolyn Jean Shotwell, #32238, Case No. 19PDJ075, suspending Shotwell from the practice of law for one year and one day, all stayed upon the successful completion of a one-year period of probation.

BODA Cause No. 64557.

DISBARMENT

On March 6, 2020, Mark Anthony Davis [#24012509], 49, of Victoria, was disbarred.

An evidentiary panel of the District 11 Grievance Committee found that Davis failed to communicate with a client, failed to hold clients’ funds separate from his own property, failed to promptly notify and deliver funds to parties entitled to receive funds, and failed to respond to a grievance. Davis violated Rules 1.03(a), 1.14(a), 1.14(b), 1.14(c), and 8.04(a)(8).

He was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution and $2,532.50 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

In the News: Victoria attorney making payments to complete State Bar probation

The State Bar of Texas is monitoring a Victoria attorney to ensure he pays fees and penalties as per the terms of his probation.

Mark Anthony Davis, who is allowed to practice law, will remain under probation until 2020, said Claire Reynolds, a Texas bar spokeswoman.

In June, Davis was ordered to pay $2,358.14 in attorney’s fees and $3,750 in restitution to two former clients among other requirements, Reynolds said. She added that bar officials are unable to comment on the compliance of attorneys under probation.

According to a grievance committee judgment, Davis was found to have neglected legal matters and failed to refund payments for two former clients.

“We try to work with attorneys so they will be able to continue to practice, as we want them to be able to pay restitution and to improve their lives and practice,” Reynolds said. “However, if he fails to do the things mentioned above, we can seek to revoke his probation and have him actively suspended.”

In January, Davis was ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution to a client for whom he failed to refund advance payments, according to another grievance committee judgment.

Davis is the former law partner of former Victoria attorney Brian Wade Rogers, who was disbarred in 2016 for mishandling a case and ignoring clients.

Rogers was also sued in Victoria County civil court by TDECU that claimed he stole at least $26,800 from members who had defaulted on loans.

That lawsuit was dismissed in 2017, but no public record of a settlement was available.

Although Davis declined to comment, he said in 2015 that his former partnership with Rogers had contributed to a suspension he received that year.

“Most people who know me know I am good attorney and very responsive to people who need help,” Davis said.

RESIGNATION

On August 21, 2020, the Supreme Court of Texas accepted the resignation, in lieu of discipline, of Christopher Michael Sandefur [#24013454], 54, of San Antonio.

At the time of the resignation, there were five disciplinary actions pending alleging Sandefur neglected clients’ matters, failed to communicate with clients, failed to return unearned fees, failed to promptly notify and deliver funds to parties entitled to receive funds, failed to return clients’ files, and engaged in conduct involving misrepresentation.

Sandefur violated Rules 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.01(b)(1), 1.14(b), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(3).

SUSPENSIONS

On July 21, 2020, Rayshun Jackson [#00797754], 51, of Dallas, agreed to a 12-month fully probated suspension effective August 1, 2020.

The District 6 Grievance Committee found that on July 25, 2019, Jackson contacted the complainant regarding representing her husband with regard to criminal matters in Collin and Tarrant counties.

Jackson contacted the complainant, who did not seek Jackson’s advice regarding employment nor had a family or past or present attorney-client relationship, offering to represent the complainant’s husband in the criminal matters.

Jackson failed to explain the criminal matters to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the complainant and her husband to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

Jackson violated Rules 1.03(b) and 7.03(a). He was ordered to pay $1,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On August 24, 2020, Charles Wayne Sullivan [#24049421], 65, of Canyon Lake, accepted a six-month fully probated suspension effective September 1, 2020.

An investigatory panel of the District 15 Grievance Committee found that Sullivan entered into a business transaction without giving the client a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent counsel in the transaction.

Sullivan violated Rules 1.08(a)(2). He agreed to pay $600 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On August 17, 2020, Lee Barrett Westmoreland [#24001113], 47, of Nacogdoches, agreed to a 36-month fully probated suspension (September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2023).

An evidentiary panel of the District 2 Grievance Committee found that on April 13, 2017, Westmoreland was court appointed to represent the complainant in a criminal matter.

Westmoreland neglected the legal matter entrusted to him, failed to explain the criminal matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit his client to make informed decisions regarding the representation, and failed to timely file a response to the grievance.

Westmoreland violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(b), and 8.04(8). He was ordered to pay $1,300 in attorneys’ fees.

On August 24, 2020, Jaime M. Morales [#24041521], 42, of McAllen, agreed to a five-year-and-one-month partially probated suspension effective December 1, 2020, with the first month actively served and the remainder probated.

An investigatory panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found that Morales failed to communicate with clients and failed to hold clients’ funds separate from his own property. Morales violated Rules 1.03(a) and 1.14(a).

He was order to pay $63,000 in restitution and $1,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

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