Judges

San Antonio Attorney Phil Ross Thrashed in Court, Now Facing The Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline, But He’s Not Worried About a Slap

San Antonio lawyer Philip Martin Ross represented a woman who didn’t have the capacity to execute legal documents, according the petition in Commission for Lawyer Discipline v. Ross.

LIT COMMENTARY

Published; 21 Dec., 2019; Updated; 30 Mar., 2020

Maverick lawyer, Phil Ross, known for his combative style has been sued by the State Bar of Texas over a grievance filed against him alleging among other things, dishonesty. And in March 2020, he’s in trouble again…

Photo Credits: Carlos Javier Sanchez / Contributor / San Antonio Express News

San Antonio lawyer Phil Ross sued again by the Texas Bar

Originally published; March 31, 2020

For the second time in six months, San Antonio lawyer Phil Ross has been sued in state district court by the State Bar of Texas for alleged serial misconduct in a guardianship case involving an elderly person.

According to the bar’s recent suit, Ross’s misbehavior included “habitual and intentional disregard for court orders, misrepresentations to the court, fraud upon the court, conflicts of interest, dishonesty and deceit.”

The suit stems from Ross’s role in a high-profile Bexar County case involving Charlie Thrash, 82, the longtime owner of CT Thrash Differential and Axle Service on West Avenue.

In 2017, Thrash was found to be mentally incapacitated and since 2018 he has been in the care of court-appointed guardians.

In the last two years, hundreds of thousands of dollars of estate assets have been spent on legal costs as Ross, who sought to overturn the guardianships, has battled a team of lawyers representing the guardians.

The earlier suit against Ross, filed in October, pertains to his alleged misconduct in a Comal County guardianship case involving Sybil Sims, an elderly San Antonio woman who died in 2016. That case is set for trial this summer in Bexar County.

Ross, 71, who is known for his contrarian and sometimes combative style, plans to represent himself in both cases.

“I intend to defend myself and bring to light the truth of what happened to Charlie Thrash. The story is not over,” he said. “I trust that when a jury hears the entire case, not only will I be vindicated but the news will present itself that the claims against me are false.”

The bar’s latest suit, triggered by a grievance filed last year by Tonya Barina, one of Thrash’s guardians, lists a dozen specific violations of the rules of professional conduct for lawyers.

Among the accusations are that Ross repeatedly tried to represent Thrash when he knew Thrash lacked mental capacity to hire a lawyer; that Ross took Thrash out of Bexar County, contrary to court orders, to obtain a license for an impermissible marriage to his girlfriend Laura Martinez; and that Ross was involved with Thrash’s subsequent improper adoption of two of Martinez’s adult children, which was later reversed.

The suit also accuses Ross of filing “meritless, vexatious pleadings and motions” in an “apparent effort to burden and cause expense for the estate,” charges he denies.

“All the things I did were in an effort to advocate the rights, privileges and immunities of Charlie Thrash,” said Ross, who linked the timing of the bar’s latest suit to the recent release of “Dirty Money,” a Netflix film critical of the guardians in the Thrash case.

Last year, Ross’s misconduct in the Thrash case triggered one of the largest court sanctions ever seen in Bexar County.

In May, Probate Court Judge Oscar Kazen imposed a $220,000 penalty on Ross and several members of the Martinez family. The 35-page order listed dozens of specific acts of misconduct, including the marriage and adoption, as well as Ross’s interfering with Thrash’s guardians. Ross has appealed the sanctions.

Les Katona, one of the lawyers representing Barina, said that Ross’s actions in the Thrash case “are the most egregious I have seen in 30 years of practice, and they merit the most severe sanction available.”

“The public and our profession need to be protected against the kind of activities that Judge Kazen has already found Mr. Ross to have engaged in,” he added.

Below is the Synopsis of the Case that Made Ross, well, Infamous…

Published; Dec. 20, 2019

A Texas judge has ordered a lawyer and his clients to pay more than $220,000 in sanctions for an alleged “vexatious litigation campaign” against a mentally incapacitated millionaire and his guardians.

Judge Oscar Kazen imposed the sanctions against lawyer Phil Ross and his clients in a May 24 decision, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Ross misrepresented himself as the lawyer for 81-year-old Charlie Thrash, the mentally incapacitated millionaire, and assisted in Thrash’s marriage and adoption of his new wife’s adult children, Kazen said in his opinion. Thrash’s marriage to Laura Martinez, who was Ross’ client, was annulled and the adoptions were undone, according to the Express-News.

Thrash is the former owner of a specialty auto repair shop whose estate is valued at more than $3 million. Martinez has been involved with Thrash since 2012, the article reports. A court-appointed psychiatrist had found Thrash to be mentally incapacitated in 2017 after an anonymous complaint was filed to Adult Protective Services.

A court investigator concluded earlier this year that Thrash didn’t want to marry Martinez and she was isolating him from friends.

Thrash did not have legal capacity to marry, and Ross and Martinez were aware of the January order finding that Thrash was incompetent at the time of the marriage, Kazen said in his opinion.

Ross served as best man at the March wedding, held in another county, and he signed the marriage certificate. The lawyer also signed and filed an application for spousal support on behalf of Martinez.

Ross also signed and filed an adoption petition in March that asserted Ross was Thrash’s lawyer, Kazen said. Ross did not disclose the incapacity order during adoption proceedings before a different judge, Kazen said.

Ross also appeared before a justice of the peace with Martinez and one of her daughters, Brittany, to assert rights under a lease. After being confronted by lawyers for Thrash, Ross admitted the lease was “reconstructed from memory,” according to Kazen.

Martinez and Ross also went to a Social Security office to get checks for Thrash redirected to Ross at his residence, Kazen said.

Ross says Thrash has regained his mental competence, and he is appealing the January 2019 order finding him to be totally incapacitated. He has filed more than 70 pleadings in a bid to oust the guardians and obtain Kazen’s recusal. He has also filed separate suits against Kazen in state court, against the two guardians in federal court and against the guardians in state court, according to the Express-News.

Kazen imposed a joint and several sanction of about $187,500 on Ross, Laura Martinez and Brittany Martinez, payable to Trash’s estate and his guardians to cover attorney fees. He also ordered Ross to pay a sanction of about $30,400 for attorney fees and a punitive sanction of $5,000. The judge ordered Laura Martinez to pay a $2,500 punitive sanction and ordered Brittany Martinez to pay a $1,500 punitive sanction.

Kazen also said he would impose a sanction of $30,000 in the event of an unsuccessful appeal of the sanctions order to the Texas Court of Appeals and $50,000 for an unsuccessful appeal of the order to the Texas Supreme Court.

As an additional sanction, Kazen barred Laura Martinez from pursuing any claim that she is or ever was Thrash’s wife, either through a ceremonial or common law marriage.

Kazen previously issued a temporary restraining order requiring the Martinez family to leave Thrash’s home. Thrash has been moved to a relative’s home and has caregivers watching him around the clock, one of Thrash’s guardians told the Express-News.

Ross told the News-Express that he hasn’t harmed Thrash and the sanctions raise more questions about the case. He says he is representing his clients pro bono.

“How did the judge allow the guardians’ lawyers to bill more than a quarter-million dollars to Charlie’s estate trying to stop his common law wife Laura and Brittany from trying to help him restore his capacity and to remove the guardians?” he said in a News-Express interview.

“The other question is why are they so afraid of us? They are trying to silence us. All we’re saying is that Charlie is not incapacitated and the guardians should be removed,” he said.

TX Lawyer accused of Abusing Client (Sims) and Her Cash

(Sound Familiar, It Is – Ross is At it Again)

Published; Dec. 20, 2019

San Antonio lawyer Philip Martin Ross represented a woman who didn’t have the capacity to execute legal documents, according the petition in Commission for Lawyer Discipline v. Ross.

Nevertheless, Ross had the woman, Sybil Sims, execute an employment contract with him, sign a deed conveying real estate to him as trustee, and create a document setting up an irrevocable trust that transferred nearly all her assets to him, the commission charged.

Ross took $25,000 from the client’s assets for his legal expenses, according to the petition against him.

The commission argued a court found that Ross lacked authority to represent the woman because of her incapacity. But it claimed that even after that finding, Ross kept executing documents conveying the woman’s assets and acting as owner of these assets.

Ross, however, vehemently denies the allegations, and plans to fight the lawsuit as it goes through district court. He said he worked with his client and the client’s daughter on an estate plan, and the client’s older two children, who opposed the plan, are the ones who filed a grievance against him.

“I’m really surprised the Texas Bar Association would even pursue them,”  Ross said.

Robert E. Cadena is the judge of Texas District 83.

He was appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Perry after Judge Carl Pendergrass passed away in January 2013.

In 2017, the Fourth Court of Appeals affirmed a sanctions award against Ross, in a Case styled Margaret Landen Saks and Philip M. Ross v. Marcus P. Rogers, et al.

Case #2019CI21028 History


PHILIP MARTIN ROSS


10/4/2019


PENDING


RESPONDENT


285


LAWYER DISCIPLINE


2019CI21028


COMMISSION FOR LAWYER DISCIPLINE


vs PHILIP M ROSS


Case History Go To Top

Currently viewing all records
Sequence Date Filed Description
P00011 3/11/2020 NOTICE OF ENTRY OF APPEARANCE OF ATTORNEY OF
STEPHANIE STROLLE AND LEAD COUNSEL DESIG
NATION
P00010 1/6/2020 ENVELOPE
FROM JUDGE ROBERT E CADENA CONTAINING
SCHEDULE ORDER
O00004 1/3/2020 SCHEDULING ORDER
JUDGE: ROBERT E. CADENA
VOL: 5235 PAGE: 3387 PAGE COUNT: 2
O00003 1/3/2020 SCHEDULING ORDER
JUDGE: ROBERT E. CADENA
VOL: 5223 PAGE: 1856 PAGE COUNT: 2
T00009 1/3/2020 NON-JURY
*PER SCO*
***TO BE HEARD BY JUDGE CADENA***
COURT: 407 TRIAL DATE & TIME: 9/21/2020 8:30AM
P00008 11/25/2019 ORIGINAL ANSWER OF
PHILIP MARTIN ROSS, REQUEST FOR DECLARAT
ORY JUDGMENT AND REQUEST FOR DISCLOSURE
P00007 11/25/2019 JURY FEE PAID
T00006 11/22/2019 NON-JURY
SETTING FOR INITIAL HEARING & ENTER DCO
***TO BE HEARD BY JUDGE ROBERT CADENA***
COURT: 285 TRIAL DATE & TIME: 12/9/2019 10:00AM
O00002 11/19/2019 ORDER SETTING HEARING
JUDGE: ROBERT E. CADENA
VOL: 5212 PAGE: 1347 PAGE COUNT: 1
O00001 11/19/2019 ORDER SETTING HEARING
JUDGE: ROBERT E. CADENA
VOL: 5212 PAGE: 1346 PAGE COUNT: 1
P00005 11/19/2019 EMAILED COPY OF:
EMAIL TO MR ROSS FROM STAFF ATTY RE:COPY
OF PETITION
S00001 11/15/2019 CITATION
PHILIP MARTIN ROSS
ISSUED: 11/15/2019
P00004 11/8/2019 REQUEST FOR SERVICE AND PROCESS
P00003 11/8/2019 SERVICE ASSIGNED TO CLERK 2
P00002 11/4/2019 ORIGINAL
ACCEPTANCE OF SERVICE OF PROCESS
P00001 10/4/2019 PETITION

Update; May 24, 2020

5/19/2020 MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(PARTIAL)

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

Laws In Texas is a blog about the Financial Crisis and how the banks and government are colluding against the citizens and homeowners of the State of Texas and relying on a system of #FakeDocs and post-crisis legal precedents, specially created by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to foreclose on homeowners around this great State. We are not lawyers. We do not offer legal advice. We are citizens of the State of Texas who have spent a decade in the court system in Texas and have been party to during this period to the good, the bad and the very ugly.

Donate to LawsInTexas. Make a Difference.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. See our Privacy Policy for more information.

© 2020 Laws In Texas. | All Rights Reserved.

To Top