Laws In Texas

Opinion Pending: A Well-Known Sanctioned NRA Lawyer With a[nother] Non-Disclosed Ethics Violation Taps the Supreme Court of Texas

Attorney Bill Brewer petitions the Texas Supreme Court. Of course he won. This is Texas and Texas Supreme Court is owned by dirty money. Sanctions quashed.

Update; Of course he won. This is Texas. Sanctions quashed.

Lawyer for NRA Did Not Disclose ‘Serious’ Ethics Sanction to Court

Before the gun group tapped William A. Brewer III for a pair of high-stakes legal battles, he was fined for attempting to improperly influence potential jurors and witnesses in Texas.

As the National Rifle Association embarks on court fights against state regulators and a longtime business ally, the gun group has enlisted the services of a high-powered attorney named William A. Brewer III, known for representing celebrities and huge corporate clients. But Brewer’s resume also includes a less flattering entry: a six-figure fine for attempting to improperly influence potential jurors and witnesses.

In court papers required for Brewer to represent the NRA in one of its cases, Brewer did not acknowledge the 2016 episode, falsely affirming that he has never been disciplined. He is appealing the judgment, but several legal ethicists say he nonetheless should have disclosed it, and could be kicked off the case and possibly subject to further penalty for not doing so.

“This is a serious violation,” said Roy Simon, a law professor at Hofstra University who specializes in ethics. “This is not a long-ago minor sanction that the lawyer might honestly have forgotten.”

  • Update, August 15: The judge presiding over the case in which Brewer did not reveal his ethics sanction has ordered Brewer to appear before the court and explain the omission.

Brewer is working as outside counsel for the NRA in two lawsuits brought by the gun group as it tries to restore its lucrative sideline in insurance products. In the first, the group is suing Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and the state’s Department of Financial Services, alleging that enforcement actions against Carry Guard, its self-defense insurance for gun owners, were part of a discriminatory anti-gun blacklisting campaign. That case is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, where Brewer is a member of the Bar.

In a separate case, the NRA is suing Lockton, the insurance brokerage that worked with the gun group to develop and sell Carry Guard, for breaching its contract when the company entered into an agreement with New York to drop its NRA-branded products. The second case is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where Brewer is not a member of the Bar. As in the New York case, the NRA is demanding a jury trial.

It’s in the Virginia filings that Brewer appears to have misled officials about his background.

To appear as counsel in a state where he is not licensed, Brewer had to submit what is called a “pro hac vice” application, Latin for “on this occasion only,” since the applicant is asking only to work on a single case in the jurisdiction. In the June filing he submitted to appear as an attorney for the NRA in Virginia, Brewer affirmed, “I have not been reprimanded in any court nor has there been any action in any court pertaining to my conduct or fitness as a member of the bar.” The judge in the case accepted the application two days after it was submitted.

Yet Brewer had, in fact, been reprimanded by a court for his conduct as an attorney. In 2016, records show, he was the counsel for a company called the Titeflex Corporation, which makes tubes, pipes, hoses, and other “liquid management products” for industrial clients. The company was being sued for wrongful death by the family of a Lubbock, Texas, man who died after a lightning strike at a home he was visiting ruptured Titeflex-manufactured steel pipes that carried natural gas, resulting in an explosion and fire.

Court records show that as part of his defense strategy, Brewer hired a public opinion research firm to survey Lubbock residents about the case and worked to draft the questions. The people the firm put those questions to included numerous city employees and potential witnesses and jurors in the case. The plaintiffs cried foul, convincing Judge Ruben Reyes that the survey amounted to a “push poll,” in which questions are phrased not to actually gauge opinion, but rather to put an idea into respondents’ heads.

Reyes fined Brewer $177,000, lighting into him in a letter explaining his decision.

Reyes wrote that he found Brewer’s attempt to duck accountability for his tactics “insulting,” calling Brewer’s claim of clean hands “at the very least unpersuasive and at the worst in bad faith, unprofessional, and unethical.”

He went on describe Brewer’s conduct as “disrespectful to the judicial system and threatening to the integrity of the judicial system,” placing it “in the category of misconduct which is highly prejudicial and inimical to a fair trial by an impartial jury.”

In March of this year, an appeals court upheld the sanction. Brewer is now petitioning the Texas Supreme Court to throw out his punishment.

In a statement, Michael J. Collins, a partner at Brewer’s firm, wrote, “We believe that Mr. Brewer and our firm acted appropriately at all times.” Collins added: “The sanctions award, which is under review by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a matter of public record. It is appropriately disclosed as required by certain courts, and recently posed no issue with respect to Mr. Brewer being admitted to a court in another jurisdiction.”

The statement included remarks by Linda Eads, an attorney and emeritus law professor at Southern Methodist University who is advising Brewer. “No additional disclosures were required by Mr. Brewer, given the order in question remains suspended on appeal to the Supreme Court of Texas,” Eads said. “I believe Mr. Brewer was truthful in his application and the application contains no misrepresentations.”

The NRA ignored interview requests. Scott Edelman, an attorney for Lockton, declined to comment.

Experts on legal ethics dispute the conclusions of Brewer’s team, characterizing his actions in the Texas case as a significant trespass that he should have acknowledged while applying to represent the NRA.

“It would be a serious misrepresentation to the Court and a basis for denying the pro hac application,” said Ron Minkoff, a New York attorney who has served on ethics committees for the American Bar Association.

“Disclosure is always the best policy,” agreed Jonathan Smaby, the executive director of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics.

Marquette Wolf was one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Titeflex wrongful death suit. He too is skeptical that Brewer’s omission was justified. “Mr. Brewer was found to be interfering in the plaintiffs and the other defendants’ right to a trial by an impartial jury,” Wolf said. “To represent that he’s never been sanctioned is puzzling.”

Simon, the Hofstra professor, noted that Brewer’s first attempt to appeal the disciplining he received from the Texas judge had failed. The reprimand, “which was accompanied by a harsh opinion and a six figure sanction, was affirmed only two months before the pro hac vice application,” he wrote in an email.

Simon elaborated: “He should have told the court that he has appealed the sanction and the sanction is stayed until the court rules on the appeal. Saying nothing at all was not permitted.” The proper legal protocol, Simon wrote, would be to note the penalty, then reapply should the pro hac application be denied and the disqualifying sanction later overturned by the Texas Supreme Court.

Now that Brewer’s falsehood has come to light, Simon added, lawyers for Lockton could raise a complaint with the federal court in Virginia and try to have him booted from the case. The judge could also refer him to the Bar Associations in Texas and New York, the two states where he maintains his practice, for further investigation and possible disciplinary action. By not disclosing his past reprimand on his application to represent the NRA, Brewer may have violated the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Conduct, which states that a lawyer may not “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Brewer is the sole named partner of his firm Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors, formerly Bickel and Brewer. In addition to the NRA, he has epresented high-profile clients like the 3M Corporation and the rapper 50 Cent. On his firm’s website, Brewer boasts of his “reputation as one of the most creative and successful lawyers in the United States practicing extensively in the field of complex commercial litigation.”

Wolf, the plaintiffs’ attorney who squared off against Brewer in the exploding pipeline case, was not surprised that the NRA had hired Brewer even after he had drawn such a stern penalty. “William Brewer is a brilliant attorney. They may not know about the sanction,” he said.

“But if they are aware, maybe they know exactly what they’re buying.”

SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS

18-0426
05/10/2018
Case Type:
Petition for Review/Cause under Rule 53.1

WILLIAM A. BREWER III

LENNOX HEARTH PRODUCTS, LLC; TURNER & WITT PLUMBING, INC.; STRONG CUSTOM BUILDERS, LLC; THERMO DYNAMIC INSULATION, LLC; STATE FARM LLOYDS INSURANCE COMPANY; KEN AND BECKY TEEL; ROSS AND MEG RUSHING

APPELLATE BRIEFS
Date  Event Type Description Remarks Document
06/16/2020 Amicus Curiae Brief received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Curiae Brief of the Texas Civil Justice League submitted by George S. Christian of Austin, Texas.
06/03/2020 Amicus Curiae Letter Received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Curiae Letter Brief Received from Kent R. Hance.
05/19/2020 Amicus Curiae Letter Received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Letter in Support of Respondent’s Motion for Rehearing received on behalf of Mr. Brian P. Lauten.
05/19/2020 Amicus Curiae Letter Received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Letter received on behalf of Michael Northrup.
05/08/2020 Amicus Curiae Brief received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Brief in Support of Respondent’s Motion for Rehearing received on behalf of Texas Association of Defense Counsel, et al.
05/08/2020 Motion for Rehearing Respondent’s Motion for Rehearing of Cause filed Motion for Rehearing filed on behalf of Lennox Hearth Products, LLC.
10/09/2019 Exhibits in case/cause filed Petitioner Petitioner’s Oral Argument Exhibits filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
09/27/2019 Response to Brief filed Petitioner Response to Consolidated Brief of Amici Curiae filed on behalf of William A. Brewer, III.
08/29/2019 Amicus Curiae Brief received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Curiae Brief of Texas Association of Defense Counsel (TADC), American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Texas Chapters of ABOTA (TEX-ABOTA), and Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) submitted by Brian Lauten of Brian Lauten, P.C. of Dallas, Texas.
12/05/2018 Reply Brief Petitioner Reply Brief on the Merits filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
10/31/2018 Amicus Curiae Brief received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Brief of Political Science Scholar, Professor Emeritus Paul J. Strand, Ph.D. Submitted by Shain A. Khoshbin and Jennifer D. Jasper of Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP.
10/31/2018 Brief on the Merits Respondent Respondent’s Brief on the Merits filed on behalf of Ken and Becky Teel, et al.
10/31/2018 Brief on the Merits Petitioner Petitioner’s Brief on the Merits filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
10/30/2018 Amicus Curiae Brief received Received (instead of filed) Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Petitioner received from Insights Association.  Submitted by Patrick J. Neligan with Neligan LLP of Dallas, Texas.
07/16/2018 Response to Petition Respondent Joinder Response to Petition for Review filed on behalf of Lennox Hearth Products, LLC, et al.
07/05/2018 Surreply filed Respondent Letter Sur Reply filed on behalf of Ken Teel, et al.
07/02/2018 Reply to Response to Petition filed Petitioner Letter Reply in Support of Petition for Review filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
07/02/2018 Response to Petition Respondent Response to Petition for Review filed on behalf of Ken and Becky Teel, et al.
05/10/2018 Petition for Review Petitioner Petition for Review filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
CASE EVENTS
Date Event Type Disposition Remarks Document
08/03/2020 Case Stored e-stored
07/08/2020 Mandate issued Mandate & Cost Bill Issued
06/16/2020 Amicus Curiae Brief received Amicus Curiae Brief of the Texas Civil Justice League submitted by George S. Christian of Austin, Texas.
06/12/2020 Justice(s) dissent to denial of petition Justice Boyd dissents from the denial of the motion for rehearing.
06/12/2020 Supreme Court of Texas Orders Issued
06/12/2020 Motion for Rehearing – Disposed Denied Justice Boyd dissents from the denial of the motion for rehearing. (Justice Bland not participating)
06/03/2020 Amicus Curiae Letter Received Amicus Curiae Letter Brief Received from Kent R. Hance.
05/19/2020 Amicus Curiae Letter Received Amicus Letter in Support of Respondent’s Motion for Rehearing received on behalf of Mr. Brian P. Lauten.
05/19/2020 Amicus Curiae Letter Received Amicus Letter received on behalf of Michael Northrup.
05/08/2020 Amicus Curiae Brief received Amicus Brief in Support of Respondent’s Motion for Rehearing received on behalf of Texas Association of Defense Counsel, et al.
05/08/2020 Case forwarded to Court
05/08/2020 Motion for Rehearing Motion for Rehearing filed on behalf of Lennox Hearth Products, LLC.
04/24/2020 Court approved judgment sent to attorneys of record Issued
04/24/2020 Concurring and Dissenting Opinion delivered Issued Justice Boyd delivered an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.
04/24/2020 Opinion issued Court of Appeals’ judgment reversed & judgment rendered The Court reverses the court of appeals’ judgment and renders judgment. Justice Guzman delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Hecht, Justice Green, Justice Lehrmann, Justice Devine, Justice Blacklock, and Justice Busby joined. (Justice Bland not participating)
(4/24/2020 2:05:22 PM) 180426.pdf, 180426cd.pdf, 18-0426.jmt.pdf
10/10/2019 Oral argument Argued on behalf of petitioner by George M. Kryder III; Argued on behalf of respondents by Ben Taylor; Argued on behalf of Amici Curiae by Brian P. Lauten (Justice Bland not participating)
10/09/2019 Exhibits in case/cause filed Petitioner’s Oral Argument Exhibits filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
10/04/2019 Submission Schedule
10/02/2019 Motion for leave to file brief disposed Filing granted Unopposed Motion for Leave to File Response Brief of Amici Curiae
09/27/2019 Response to Brief filed Response to Consolidated Brief of Amici Curiae filed on behalf of William A. Brewer, III.
09/27/2019 Motion for leave to file brief Motion for Leave to file a Response to the Consolidated Brief of Amici Curiae filed on behalf of William A. Brewer, III.
09/11/2019 Oral Argument Submission Form from Attorney received Oral Argument will be presented by Brian P. Lauten of Brian Lauten, PC of Dallas, Texas on behalf of Texas Association of Defense Counsel, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Texas Chapters of ABOTA, and Texas Trial Lawyers Association.
09/11/2019 Oral Argument Submission Form from Attorney received Oral Argument will be presented by Mr. Ben Taylor with Ted B. Lyon & Associates, P.C. of Mesquite, Texas, filed on behalf of Ken Teel, et al.
09/10/2019 Oral Argument Submission Form from Attorney received Oral Argument Submission Form filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III. Oral Argument will be presented by George M. Kryder III of Vinson & Elkins LLP.
09/06/2019 Motion to Argue disposed Filing granted Motion of Amici Curiae to Participate in Oral Argument granted.  Time allotted to argue: 20/15/5 minutes
08/30/2019 Amendment to Motion filed Amended Motion to participate in Oral Argument filed on behalf of Amici Curiae, TADC, ABOTA, TEX-ABOTA, and TTLA.
08/30/2019 Electronic communication sent to Party Email sent to counsel for Petitioners to see if the Motion for Amicus Curiae to participate in Oral Argument is opposed or unopposed.
08/30/2019 Motion to Argue filed Motion to participate in Oral Argument filed on behalf of Amici Curiae, TADC, ABOTA, TEX-ABOTA, and TTLA.
08/29/2019 Amicus Curiae Brief received Amicus Curiae Brief of Texas Association of Defense Counsel (TADC), American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Texas Chapters of ABOTA (TEX-ABOTA), and Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) submitted by Brian Lauten of Brian Lauten, P.C. of Dallas, Texas.
06/28/2019 Case set for oral argument Case set for oral argument This case has been set for oral argument at 9:00 a.m., October 10, 2019. Time allotted to argue: 20/20 minutes.
06/28/2019 Petition for Review disposed Filing granted
06/28/2019 Petition for Review granted
12/05/2018 Reply Brief Reply Brief on the Merits filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
10/31/2018 Amicus Curiae Brief received Amicus Brief of Political Science Scholar, Professor Emeritus Paul J. Strand, Ph.D. Submitted by Shain A. Khoshbin and Jennifer D. Jasper of Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP.
10/31/2018 Brief on the Merits Respondent’s Brief on the Merits filed on behalf of Ken and Becky Teel, et al.
10/31/2018 Brief on the Merits Petitioner’s Brief on the Merits filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
10/30/2018 Amicus Curiae Brief received Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Petitioner received from Insights Association.  Submitted by Patrick J. Neligan with Neligan LLP of Dallas, Texas.
09/19/2018 Motion for Extension of Time disposed. Filing granted Opposed Motion for Extension of Time to file Petitioner’s Brief on the Merits is granted. FURTHER REQUESTS FOR EXTENSIONS OF TIME FOR THIS FILING WILL BE DISFAVORED. Petitioner’s brief is due October 31, 2018; Response brief is due November 20, 2018; Reply brief is due December 5, 2018.
09/18/2018 Electronic communication received from Party Per counsel Ben Taylor, the Teel/Rushing respondents do oppose Mr. Brewer’s requested extension but do not plan to file a written response in opposition.
09/18/2018 Electronic communication sent to Party Email sent to respondents’ counsel inquiring whether a response to the motion will be filed.
09/18/2018 Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief filed Opposed Motion for Extension of Time to file Petitioner’s Brief on the Merits filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
09/11/2018 Case Record Filed Electronic Appellate Record received.
09/05/2018 Record Requested in Petition for Review Record requested from the 7th COA
08/31/2018 Brief on the Merits Requested Brief on the merits requested:  Petitioner’s brief due no later than October 1, 2018; Response brief due October 22, 2018; Reply brief due November 6, 2018.
08/31/2018 Notice received Take Judicial Notice filed on behalf of Ken & Becky Teel and Ross & Meg Rushing.
07/16/2018 Response to Petition Joinder Response to Petition for Review filed on behalf of Lennox Hearth Products, LLC, et al.
07/05/2018 Surreply filed Letter Sur Reply filed on behalf of Ken Teel, et al.
07/02/2018 Reply to Response to Petition filed Letter Reply in Support of Petition for Review filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
07/02/2018 Response to Petition Response to Petition for Review filed on behalf of Ken and Becky Teel, et al.
06/15/2018 Supreme Court of Texas Requested Response Response Requested to Petition for Review due no later than July 16, 2018.
05/15/2018 Case forwarded to Court
05/14/2018 Response Waiver filed Response Waiver filed on behalf of State Farm Lloyds Insurance Company, et al.
05/11/2018 Response Waiver filed Response Waiver filed on behalf of Ken and Becky Teel, et al.
05/10/2018 Petition for Review Petition for Review filed on behalf of William A. Brewer III.
05/10/2018 Clerk’s Record
05/10/2018 Supplement to Clerk’s/Reporter’s Record
05/10/2018 Supplement to Clerk’s/Reporter’s Record
05/10/2018 Supplement to Clerk’s/Reporter’s Record
CALENDARS
Set Date Calendar Type Reason Set Remarks
08/03/2020 Case Stored Case stored. e-stored
PARTIES
Party PartyType Representative
Teel, Becky Respondent Mr. Ted B. Lyon Jr.
Mr. Ben Taylor
Mr. Marquette William Wolf
Texas Civil Justice League Amicus Curiae Mr. George Scott Christian
Insights Association Amicus Curiae Mr. John Gaither
Mr. Patrick J. Neligan Jr.
Texas Association of Defense Counsel (TADC) Amicus Curiae Mr. Roger W. Hughes
American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Amicus Curiae Mr. Brian Patrick Lauten
State Farm Lloyds Insurance Company Respondent Ms. Rebecca E. Bell
Mr. N. Scott Carpenter
Lennox Hearth Products, LLC Respondent Mr. Craig Hubert Myers
Mr. Timothy R. George
Brewer, III, William A. Petitioner Mr. George M. Kryder III
Mr. Stephen S. Gilstrap
Ms. Linda S. Eads
Mr. Daniel L. Tobey
Mr. R. Michael McCauley Jr.
Ms. Melissa L. James
Mr. Timothy Thomas Pridmore
Mr. Jack Paul Driskill
Turner & Witt Plumbing Respondent Mr. Mark L. Packard
Northrup, Michael Amicus Curiae Mr. R. L Michael Northrup
Lauten, Brian Amicus Curiae Mr. Brian Patrick Lauten
Thermo Dynamic Insulation, LLC Respondent Ms. Angela Marie Hahn
Mr. Bill Harriger
Strong Custom Builders, LLC Respondent Mr. Douglas Christopher Heuvel
Texas Chapters of ABOTA (TEX-ABOTA) Amicus Curiae Mr. David E. Chamberlain
Teel, Ken Respondent Mr. Marquette William Wolf
Mr. Ben Taylor
Mr. Ted B. Lyon Jr.
Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) Amicus Curiae Mr. William Kyle Adams
Mr. Thomas A. Adams
Rushing, Meg Respondent Mr. Ben Taylor
Mr. Ted B. Lyon Jr.
Mr. Marquette William Wolf
Rushing, Ross Respondent Mr. Ben Taylor
Mr. Ted B. Lyon Jr.
Mr. Marquette William Wolf
Strand, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus Paul J. Amicus Curiae Mr. Shahin A. Khoshbin
Ms. Jennifer D. Jasper
Hance, Kent R. Amicus Curiae Mr. Kent R. Hance
COURT OF APPEALS INFORMATION:
Affirmed
546 SW3d 866, 03-26-18
7th Court of Appeals
Honorable Patrick A. Pirtle
TRIAL COURT INFORMATION
72nd District Court
Lubbock
Honorable Ruben Gonzales Reyes
2012-504,105

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Court of Appeals Information:

07-16-00121-CV
Affirmed
546 SW3d 866, 03-26-18
7th Court of Appeals
Honorable Patrick A. Pirtle

Trial Court Information:

72nd District Court
Lubbock
Court Judge Honorable Ruben Gonzales Reyes
2012-504,105

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Opinion Pending: A Well-Known Sanctioned NRA Lawyer With a[nother] Non-Disclosed Ethics Violation Taps the Supreme Court of Texas
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