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Texas Lawyers Gone Rogue, the October 2019 List of Disciplined Lawyers and Judges & The 10 Bad Attorneys Who are “Privately” Disciplined

Texas Lawyers and Judges Gone Rogue – October 2019 List from the State Bar of Texas.

25 Lawyers & Judges Disciplined on October List

Disciplinary Actions — October 2019 State Bar lists (verbatim from the State Bar of Texas)
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

RESIGNATIONS
On August 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of Texas accepted the resignation, in lieu of discipline, of Daniella Nicole Tiller [#24073601], 37, of Houston. At the time of Tiller’s resignation, she had two pending grievances. In one matter, upon termination of representation, Tiller failed to surrender papers and property to which her client was entitled. In the second matter, while representing her client, Tiller neglected the legal matter entrusted to her and failed to explain the legal matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit her client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. In both matters, Tiller failed to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Tiller violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(b), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(8).

SUSPENSIONS
On July 3, 2019, Craig A. Washington Sr. [#20901000], 77, of Houston, received a five-year partially probated suspension effective July 1, 2019. The 423rd District Court of Bastrop County found that Washington committed professional misconduct by violating Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.01(b)(1) [neglecting a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer],  1.03(a) [failing to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reason- able requests for information], and  1.15(d) [upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled, and refunding any advance payments of fees that have not been earned]. Washington was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution.

Craig Anthony Washington (born October 12, 1941) is an American lawyer and Democratic Party politician from Texas who served in the Texas State Senate and the United States House of Representatives.

The son of Roy and Azalia Washington, Washington graduated from Prairie View A&M University in 1966 and was originally interested in becoming a doctor, but as admissions to medical school had already ceased, Washington decided to instead apply at Texas Southern University‘s law school.[citation needed]

In 1972, the state of Texas began electing members of the state House of Representatives and State Senate, for the first time, by single-member districts. Washington, along with four other minority candidates, Anthony Hall, George T. “Mickey” LelandBenny Reyes and Cecil Bush, (dubbed the “People’s Five”), ran for seats in the Texas House of Representatives. Washington was elected, and represented District 86 in the state House from 1973 to 1982. He then represented District 13 in the state senate from 1983 until 1989.

Washington was elected as a Democrat to the 101st United States Congress for Texas’s 18th congressional district, by special election, December 9, 1989, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mickey Leland. He was reelected to the 102nd United States Congress and 103rd United States Congress and served from December 9, 1989, to January 3, 1995. He took stands against some projects, like the International Space Station, where spending would have flowed to his district.[1]

In March, 1994, Washington was routed in the Democratic primary by Houston City Councilwoman Sheila Jackson Lee, winning only 36.5 percent of the vote. Lee won in November and still holds the seat today.

Since leaving Congress, Washington has practiced law in Houston and Bastrop, Texas.

PUBLIC REPRIMANDS
On July 22, 2019, Carlos A. Ryerson [#17492500], 70, of Houston, accepted a judgment of public reprimand. The 11th Judicial District Court, Harris County, found that Ryerson misused his IOLTA account for non-client funds. Ryerson violated Rule 1.14(a). He was ordered to pay $250 in attorneys’ fees.

On July 18, 2019, Adjua Rochelle Umoja-Justice [#20377000], 60, of Houston, accepted a public reprimand. The 80th Judicial District Court of Harris County found that Umoja-Justice failed to ensure that the conduct of a non-lawyer under her direct supervision was compatible with the professional obligations of a lawyer, and she permitted the conduct involved. Umoja-Justice violated Rules 5.03(a) and 5.03(b)(1). She was ordered to pay $250 in attorneys’ fees.

Rest of the state

REINSTATEMENTS
William D. Beard [#01978760], 59, filed a petition in the 14th District Court in Dallas County for reinstatement as a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Robert A. Heard [#00795413], 57, has filed a petition in the 95th District Court in Dallas County for reinstatement as a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Pictured l to r is JP 1 Rita Carrasco, JP 4 Betty Velez, newly elected County Treasurer Adrian Hinojos and JP 2 A.P. Flores.

Culberson County swears in new, re-elected officials

All those elected formally assumed office for their new terms on January 2, 2019, and will serve for four years.

Culberson County Judge- Carlos Urias;District/County Clerk- Linda McDonald; County Treasurer- Adrian Hinojos; County Commissioner, Precinct 2- Raul Rodriguez; County Commissioner, Precinct 4- Adrian Norman; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1- Rita Carrasco; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2- AP Flores; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3- Michael Davis; and Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4- Betty Velez.

JUDICIAL ACTIONS
On August 20, 2019, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued an order of suspension without pay to Betty Velez, justice of the peace, Precinct 4, Van Horn, Culberson County.

On August 8, 2019, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public warning and order of additional education to Kim Baggett, municipal court judge for the city of Breckenridge, Stephens County. 

On August 8, 2019, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public admonition to Michael Crouch, former justice of the peace, Precinct 5, Timpson, Shelby County.

The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct has sanctioned an Austin misdemeanor judge who protested U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the bench by closing his courtroom and draping a black cloth over its door.

On August 8, 2019, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public admonition to John Lipscombe, judge of Travis County Court at Law No. 3, Austin, Travis County.

The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct has sanctioned an Austin misdemeanor judge who protested U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the bench by closing his courtroom and draping a black cloth over its door.

On August 26, 2019, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public admonition and order of additional education to Beatrice “Bebe” Rocha, justice of the peace, Precinct 1, Horseshoe Bay, Llano County.   

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered a justice of the peace in Horseshoe Bay to take ethics training, after upholding a public admonishment Aug. 7 for her dealings with a woman she accused of having a relationship with the judge’s estranged husband.

The state commission concluded that Llano County Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Beatrice “Bebe” Rocha “lent the prestige of her judicial office to advance her own private interests by invoking her judicial position during a telephone conversation . . .”

DISBARMENT
On June 26, 2019, Daniel Armando Sandoval [#24075521], 38, of Helotes, was disbarred. An evidentiary panel of the District 10 Grievance Committee found that Sandoval failed to maintain a client’s funds in a trust account, failed to deliver funds to the party entitled to receive them, and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, misrepresentation, or deceit. Sandoval violated Rules 1.14(a), 1.14(b), and 8.04(a)(3). He was ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution and $5,921.85 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

RESIGNATIONS
On August 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of Texas accepted the resignation, in lieu of discipline, of Anne Elizabeth Ohlrich [#24005254], 49, of San Antonio. At the time of her resignation, Ohlrich had four grievances pending alleging Ohlrich accepted legal matters beyond her competence, failed to keep a client informed, misappropriated client funds, and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Ohlrich violated Rules 1.01(a)(1), 1.03(a), 1.14(a), 1.14(b), and 8.04(a)(3).

SUSPENSIONS
On June 28, 2019, Roland M. Fergurson Jr. [#00786425], 64, of Sulphur Springs, received a four-year partially probated suspension effective July 15, 2019, with the first two years actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 1 Grievance Committee found that Fergurson neglected the legal matter entrusted to him by failing to file a petition in a family law matter, failed to keep his clients reasonably informed about the status of their family law matter and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from his clients, failed to hold funds belonging to his clients separate from his own property, and failed to keep said funds in a separate trust account. Upon termination of representation, Fergurson failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. Fergurson violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.14(a), and 1.15(d). He was ordered to pay $2,400 in restitution and $2,145.50 in attorneys’ fees.

On August 14, 2019, Esteban Gonzales [#24028747], 46, of San Benito, agreed to a four-year fully probated suspension effective August 1, 2019. An evidentiary panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found that Gonzales failed to keep a client reasonably informed and failed to provide a full accounting of funds. Gonzales violated Rules 1.03(a) and 1.14(b). He was ordered to pay $3,100 in restitution and $800 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On December 21, 2018, Eric Kevin Gormly [#24071309], 64, of Dallas received a 12-month fully probated suspension. The 162nd District Court of Dallas County found that Gormly committed professional misconduct by violating Texas Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 8.04(a)(8) [A lawyer shall not fail to timely furnish to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel or a district grievance committee a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, unless he or she in good faith timely asserts a privilege or other legal ground for failure to do so]. Gormly was ordered to pay $2,400 in attorneys’ fees.


On December 18, 2018, Eric Kevin Gormly [#24071309], 64, of Dallas, received a 24-month partially probated suspension, with the first six months actively suspended and the remainder probated. The 101st District Court of Dallas County found that Gormly committed professional misconduct by violating Texas Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.15(a)(3) [A lawyer shall decline to represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw, except as stated in paragraph (c), from the representation of a client, if the lawyer is discharged, with or without good cause] and  8.04(a)(11) [A lawyer shall not engage in the practice of law when the lawyer is on inactive status or when the lawyer’s right to practice has been suspended or terminated including but not limited to situations where a lawyer’s right to practice has been administratively suspended for failure to timely pay required fees or assessments or for failure to comply with Article XII of the State Bar Rules relating to mandatory continuing legal education]. Gormly was ordered to pay $3,600 in attorneys’ fees.

On August 14, 2019, Douglas Matthew McMaster [#13786020], 56, of Brownsville, agreed to an eight-year partially probated suspension effective August 15, 2019, with the first four years actively served and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found that McMaster failed to respond to the grievance. McMaster violated Rule 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $800 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On August 14, 2019, Douglas Matthew McMaster [#13786020], 56, of Brownsville, agreed to an eight-year partially probated suspension effective August 15, 2019, with the first four years actively served and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found McMaster neglected a client’s matter, failed to keep a client reasonably informed, failed to return the unearned portion of a fee, and failed to respond to the grievance. McMaster violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $1,800 in restitution and $800 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On July 10, 2019, Laura Gayle Nelson [#14903550], 60, of San Marcos, accepted a one-month active suspension effective August 1, 2019. The 274th Judicial District Court of Comal County found that Nelson committed professional misconduct by violating Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.01(b)(1) [neglecting a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer], 1.03(a) [failing to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information], 1.03(b) [failing to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions], 1.14(a) [failing to hold funds and other property belonging in whole or part to clients or third persons in a lawyer’s possession separate from the lawyer’s own property], 1.14(b) [failing, upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or third person has an interest, to promptly notify the client or third person and render a full accounting upon request], 1.15(d) [failing, upon termination of representation, to reasonably protect a client’s interests], and 8.04(a)(8) [failing to respond to a grievance in a timely manner]. Nelson was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution and $200 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

We’re glad to see Corpus Christi Laywer and Mediator Gayle Nelson paid back her $3,000 to her client and has kept herself clean of any further sins as at the time of this update in March 2021.

On June 28, 2019, Scott Patrick Ogle [#00797170], 57, of Austin, received a one-year fully probated suspension effective July 1, 2019. An evidentiary panel of the District 9 Grievance Committee found that while representing himself in criminal matters, Ogle obtained discovery materials from the prosecuting attorney’s office pursuant to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 39.14, which prohibits disclosure of certain discovery materials produced in criminal cases. Ogle published the materials provided to him in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Ogle violated Rule 8.04(a)(12). He was ordered to pay $5,595 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

I AM GOD

On February 18, 2020, Joe Jesse Ponce III [#24014329], 61, of San Antonio, was disbarred.

On May 15, 2019, Joe Jesse Ponce III [#24014329], 61, of San Antonio, received a three-year partially probated suspension effective June 1, 2019, with the first four months actively served and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 10 Grievance Committee found that Ponce knowingly revealed confidential information of a client and failed to render a full accounting. Ponce violated Rules 1.05(b)(1)(ii) and 1.14(b). He was ordered to pay $4,228.50 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.Ponce has filed an appeal.

On July 31, 2019, Ross A. Rodriguez [#24025756], 55, of San Antonio, accepted a three-year-and-eight-month fully probated suspension effective August 1, 2019. An evidentiary panel of the District 10 Grievance Committee found that Rodriguez failed to keep his client reasonably informed. Rodriguez violated Rule 1.03(a). He was ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution and $800 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On August 6, 2019, Aaron Christian Seymour [#24094943], 34, of Waco, accepted a three-year fully probated suspension effective August 1, 2019. An evidentiary panel of the District 8 Grievance Committee found that while representing a client in a personal injury matter, Seymour failed to respond to discovery requests, failed to respond to a summary judgment motion filed by opposing counsel, and failed to keep his client informed about the case. Seymour further failed to file a response to the grievance as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Seymour violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $645 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On October 7, 2020, Kimberly Dian Smith [#24041944], 41, of Atlanta, was disbarred.

On August 2, 2019, Kimberly Dian Smith [#24041944], 41, of Atlanta, received a two-year fully probated suspension effective August 15, 2019. An evidentiary panel of the District 1 Grievance Committee found that Smith failed to carry out completely the obligations that she owed to her client, failed to keep her client reasonably informed about the status of her case, and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from her client. Smith failed to timely furnish a response to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. Smith violated Rules 1.01(b)(2), 1.03(a), and 8.04(a)(8). She was ordered to pay $2,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

SMITH DISBARRED IN OCT. 2020

Spriggs received further discipline in January 2020.

On July 18, 2019, Ronald T. Spriggs [#00792853], 61, of Amarillo, received a 24-month partially probated suspension effective August 1, 2019, with the first three months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 13 Grievance Committee found that Spriggs was hired to represent his client in a felony criminal matter. During the course of the representation, Spriggs failed to appear in court for his client’s criminal trial. Spriggs also failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the criminal matter and failed to promptly comply with the client’s reasonable requests for case information. Upon termination of representation, Spriggs failed to refund his client’s unearned fees. Spriggs violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 1.15(d). He was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution and $4,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

PUBLIC REPRIMANDS
On July 5, 2019, Jacques Lawrence De La Mota [#24038857], 54, of Del Rio, accepted a public reprimand. The 83rd Judicial District Court of Val Verde County found that De La Mota committed professional misconduct by violating Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.15(d) [failing to refund any advance payments of fees that have not been earned]. De La Mota was ordered to pay $1,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On July 24, 2019, Ronald G. Greening [#08402600], 73, of Austin, accepted a public reprimand. An evidentiary panel of the District 9 Grievance Committee found that on January 2, 2014, the complainant hired Greening to represent her in her capacity as trustee for her husband’s trust. Over the course of the representation, the complainant paid Greening $76,827.50, including an advanced fee paid in June 2015. On October 1, 2015, the complainant fired Greening via letter. In that letter she requested an accounting of the advanced fee and requested Greening to forward her file to new counsel. On January 13, 2016, the complainant sent another letter to Greening, again requesting an accounting. The complainant did not receive an accounting, the unearned portion of the advanced fee, or her file until May 2016, after she filed a grievance. At that time, Greening refunded $400 in unearned fees to the complainant.Greening violated Rule 1.14(b) and 1.15(d). He was ordered to pay $8,614.49 in attorneys’ fees and expenses.

On August 2, 2019, Kevin F. Kurtz [#11770500], 72, of Dallas, entered into an agreed judgment of public reprimand. An investigatory panel of the District 6 Grievance Committee found that Kurtz accepted employment in a legal matter in which Kurtz knew or should have known was beyond his competence. Kurtz failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of his legal matter and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. Kurtz had direct supervisory authority over a typing service and failed to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the typing service’s conduct was compatible with the professional obligations of Kurtz. Kurtz violated Rules 1.01(a), 1.03(a), and 5.03(a). He was ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

Open Courts. Open Government. Private Discipline. Well, that’s Transparency…Texas Style.
lit-i-gate-v2-1080
Texas Lawyers Gone Rogue, the October 2019 List of Disciplined Lawyers and Judges & The 10 Bad Attorneys Who are “Privately” Disciplined
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