As the Supreme Court of Texas ejected the remainder of its cases, including two denials by pro se Burch who was clearly exhausted with the complete contempt for citizens and corruption in the judiciary by the time he arrived at the State’s highest Court and a very questionable reversal of a default judgment in his quiet title case because the lower court judge ‘failed to dispose of all the pro se’s claims in issuing the default judgment’ (which is just a gut feeling, we have yet to fully read the case and background so will defer our own commentary in this matter until such times as we review), they can sit back knowing they completely shafted homeowners in the 2019-2020 session and go home with a bountiful bankers bonus.
Below is the ‘opinion’ of Chief Justice Brian Quinn of Amarillo’s Appellate Court in Texas. His statement is false. It’s #FakeNews when he says that the Texas Bar and BODA have “absolute” immunity.
How? Read the “do not publish” case of Laubach below which states quite clearly there are exceptions.
We issued our last opinions of the term today at the Supreme Court of Texas, and we cleared our docket of argued cases again thanks to the hard work of the Justices and our staff. It’s an honor to serve the people of Texas with these dedicated colleagues. #SCOTX #AppellateTwitter pic.twitter.com/xk3b4mLcfN
— Justice Brett Busby (@BrettBusby) June 26, 2020
In The Court of Appeals
Seventh District of Texas at Amarillo
WILLIAM PAUL BURCH, APPELLANT V.
STATE BAR OF TEXAS
AND BOARD OF DISCIPLINARY APPEALS, APPELLEES
On Appeal from the 236th District Court Tarrant County, Texas
Trial Court No. 236-304802-18, Honorable Tom Lowe, Presiding
February 19, 2020 MEMORANDUM OPINION
Before QUINN, C.J., and PARKER and DOSS, JJ.
This is a pro se appeal from two orders granting pleas to the trial court’s jurisdiction. The State Bar of Texas and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals filed those pleas in response to the lawsuit initiated against them by William Paul Burch.
The latter sued the former because he believed they improperly denied grievances filed against two attorneys.
Those attorneys purportedly engaged in misconduct related to a bankruptcy proceeding in which Burch was involved.
Thus, he filed grievances against the attorneys with the State Bar.
Ultimately, those grievances were dismissed, and Burch’s appeal of the dismissals was denied by the Board of Disciplinary Appeals.
So, Burch sued the Bar and Board for dismissing the grievances.
The relief sought included, among other things, monetary damages exceeding $1,000,000, reconsideration of the grievances, “[t]ermination of all people involved with the decisions in these cases,” and “[r]eversal of all statutes of the Texas Supreme Court that allow lawyers to lie, misrepresent the facts .. . or not properly present a law, statute, or rule by editing out or adding to the wording.”
Though five issues are raised, only several were briefed. Of those briefed, the argument underlying them pertained to whether the Bar and Board were entitled to immunity because they were either private or public corporations.
Via their respective pleas to the trial court’s jurisdiction, both the Bar and Board contended that they were immune from suits of this ilk. They are correct.
The “State Bar—including the [Texas] Commission [for Lawyer Discipline] and staff members . . . are protected from suits for actions taken during disciplinary proceedings by absolute and unqualified immunity.”
Crampton v. Farris, No. 01-18-00432-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 10265, at *11 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Nov. 26, 2019 no pet. h.) (mem. op.);
Laubach v. State Bar of Tex., No. 03-00-00282-CV, 2000 Tex. App. LEXIS 7563, at *3–4 (Tex. App.—Austin Nov. 9, 2000, no pet.) (not designated for publication);
accord TEX. RULES DISCIPLINARY P. 17.09
(stating that “[n]o lawsuit may be instituted against any Complainant or witness predicated upon the filing of a Grievance or participation in the attorney disciplinary and disability system. All members of the Commission, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel (including Special Assistant Disciplinary Counsel appointed by the mission and attorneys employed on a contract basis by the Chief Disciplinary Counsel), all members of Committees, all members of the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, all members of the District Disability Committees, all officers and Directors of the State Bar, and the staff members of the aforementioned entities are immune from suit for any conduct in the course of their official duties. The immunity is absolute and unqualified and extends to all actions at law or in equity.”).
Moreover, the immunity is akin to absolute prosecutorial immunity.
Crampton, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 10265, at *11. So too may it be raised through a plea to the trial court’s jurisdiction. Id. at *18.
Given that Burch sued the Bar and Board for action taken during a lawyer disciplinary proceeding, the two entities were absolutely immune from it.
Thus, the trial court did not err in granting their pleas to its jurisdiction.
We affirm the orders granting the pleas to the jurisdiction and dismissing the lawsuit of William Paul Burch against the State Bar of Texas and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals.
1 Because this appeal was transferred from the Second Court of Appeals, we are obligated to apply its precedent when available in the event of a conflict between the precedents of that court and this Court. See TEX. R. APP. P. 41.3.
Bea Ann Smith, Justice
Before Chief Justice Aboussie, Justices B. A. Smith and Patterson
Filed: November 9, 2000
1. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 101.001-.109 (West 1997 & Supp. 2000).
COMAL COUNTY, 22ND JUDICIAL DISTRICT
Appellant Gerald H. Laubach filed a grievance with appellee, the State Bar of Texas, alleging professional misconduct by an attorney he had retained to represent him in a civil dispute.
Following a hearing held to investigate Laubach’s grievance, the State Bar found no professional misconduct and dismissed Laubach’s complaint.
Laubach then sued the State Bar “in tort,” alleging it had handled his grievance improperly and violated its own rules of disciplinary procedure.
The State Bar moved to dismiss Laubach’s suit, asserting sovereign and statutory immunity.
The district court granted the State Bar’s motion, and Laubach appeals, claiming he suffered damages from “the non-investigatory & non-evidentiary ‘condition or use of (the) tangible property'” of his grievance.
We will affirm the order of dismissal.
It is well established that the State and its agencies are not liable for torts committed by their officers or agents in the absence of a constitutional or statutory waiver of their sovereign immunity.
Duhart v. State, 897 S.W.2d 448, 450 (Tex. App.–Austin 1995, writ denied)., 741 (Tex. 1980); DeWitt v. Director, State Employees Workers’ Comp. Div.,
Such a waiver is left to the legislature, which must waive sovereign immunity by clear and unambiguous language.
University of Tex. Med. Branch v. York, 871 S.W.2d 175, 177 (Tex. 1994); Duhart, 610 S.W.2d at 742; DeWitt, 897 S.W.2d at 450.
In enacting the Texas Tort Claims Act,(1) the legislature waived sovereign immunity in limited circumstances involving the use of publicly owned automobiles, premises defects, or conditions or use of tangible property. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 101.021 (West 1997); DeWitt, 897 S.W.2d at 450.
Laubach contends his suit is not barred by sovereign immunity because he suffered damages from the condition or use of tangible property, immunity for which is waived by the Texas Tort Claims Act. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 101.021(2).
However, the Texas Tort Claims Act does not waive immunity for the negligent or wrongful use of information contained in papers and documents.
Dallas County v. Harper, 913 S.W.2d 207, 207-08 (Tex. 1995); York, 871 S.W.2d at 179; DeWitt, 897 S.W.2d at 450-51; Texas Dep’t of Human Servs. v. Benson, 893 S.W.2d 236, 239-40 (Tex. App.–Austin 1995, writ denied); Texas Dep’t of Human Servs. v. Sakil, , 25 (Tex. App.–El Paso 1999, pet. denied); Allen v. City of Midlothian, 927 S.W.2d 316, 322-23 (Tex. App.–Waco 1996, no writ).
Laubach’s suit complains that the State Bar misused information contained in his grievance proceeding.
Such claims do not fall within the limited waiver of immunity contained in the Texas Tort Claims Act, and his suit is barred by sovereign immunity.
Further, the State Bar and its agents are explicitly granted immunity by rule 15.11 of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure:
All members of [the State Bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline], the Chief Disciplinary Counsel and his or her staff . . . , all members of [District grievance] Committees, all members of the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, . . . and all officers and Directors of the State Bar are immune from suit for any conduct in the course of their official duties. The immunity is absolute and unqualified and extends to all actions at law or in equity.
Tex. R. Disciplinary P. 15.11, reprinted in Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. tit. 2, subtit. G app. A-1 (West 1998).
The State Bar is protected from liability for actions taken during disciplinary proceedings by absolute and unqualified immunity under rule 15.11. As a state agency, the State Bar is also protected by sovereign immunity that is not waived by the Texas Tort Claims Act. We overrule Laubach’s issue on appeal.
The State Bar is immune from Laubach’s lawsuit, and the district court properly dismissed his suit. We affirm the district court’s order.