Published; Dec. 22, 2019
Stealing and/or Skimming cash from client settlements, taking client funds out of escrow before they are earned has a legal term, it’s called THEFT. It happens frequently in Texas. Lawyers are dipping into client funds like it’s their own piggy bank.
If a bank clerk was to dip into a customers bank account funds, they’d be out of a job and in jail before you can blink an eye.
However, it seems “acceptable” practice in Texas. The State Bar and the Courts condone THEFT and more than not, they turn a blind eye or give the lawyer a “slap” after the disciplinary committee reviews.
It is unacceptable. THEFT is a Criminal offence and should be treated exactly as that. Lawyers should be immediately suspended and if found guilty, disbarred. No resignations should be allowed in such cases, as these rogue lawyers can reapply after only five years to have their law licenses reinstated.
El Paso Attorney Steals 2 Known Clients Settlement Funds and yet He’s not even Suspended by the Bar, pending the law suit.
El Paso attorney Omar Maynez-Grijalva faces two complaints from his former personal-injury clients.
The petition in Commission for Lawyer Discipline v. Maynez-Grijalva alleged the attorney mishandled the clients’ settlement funds.
It claims that in one of the cases, the attorney gave the insurance company a settlement release that supposedly had the client’s signature, even though the client was dead.
Respondent represented Davie Romero on a personal injury claim. Ms. Romero agreed to settle her claim with Allstate Insurance and signed a Release of All Claims against the adverse driver and Allstate on May 30, 2019.
Before Respondent provided Ms. Romero the net settlement funds that she was entitled to receive, he presented Ms. Romero with a Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release (11Settlement Agreement”) for her signature.
The parties to the Settlement Agreement were Respondent and Davie Romero. There was no consideration paid to Ms. Romero for her release of all claims against Respondent contained in the Settlement Agreement and Respondent failed to notify Ms. Romero that she should seek the advice of independent counsel before signing the Settlement Agreement.
On December 21, 2018, Respondent was served with the grievance complaint filed by Davie Romero along with notice to respond in writing within thirty days after receipt. At Respondent’s request, he was granted an extension of time to February 19, 2019 to serve a written response to the grievance. Respondent failed to timely furnish to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel any written response to the grievance filed by Davie Romero.
Respondent failed to comply with the investigatory subpoena served on Respondent and ordering Respondent to produce to Petitioner certain documents related to the claims of Davie Romero no later than May 31, 2019.
Hector Escobar was injured in a car accident on March 16, 2018. Following the death of Hector Escobar on or about June 4, 2017, Omar Maynez-Grijalva (“Respondent”) represented Guadalupe M. Escobar and Jared Escobar, the wife and son of Hector Escobar, as claimants regarding the pending personal injury claim. An agreement to settle the claims was reached with State Fann in October 2018.
Prior to receiving the Escobar settlement funds from State Fann, Respondent had been notified that Injury Medical Clinic asserted an interest in the settlement funds for the medical services the Clinic provided to Hector Escobar after the accident. Respondent contends Guadalupe M.Escobar and Jared Escobar disputed any portion of the settlement was owed to Injury Medical Clinic. After receiving the settlement funds, Respondent failed to deliver any portion of the settlement funds to Injury Medical Clinic and failed to hold the disputed portion of the settlement funds in trust until the dispute between Respondent’s clients and Injury Medical Center was resolved.
State Farm provided a proposed Release to Respondent on or about October 19, 2018 regarding the Escobar injury claims. On October 19, 2018, Respondent returned to State Farm the signed Release bearing the purported signature of Hector Escobar, who was deceased.
On March 22, 2019, Respondent was served with the grievance complaint filed by Truide Torres on behalf of Injury Medical Clinic along with notice to respond in writing within thirty days after receipt. Respondent failed to timely furnish to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel any written response to the grievance filed by Truide Torres.
Respondent failed to comply with the investigatory subpoena served on Respondent and ordering Respondent to produce to Petitioner certain documents in this disciplinary proceeding no later than June 3, 2019.
Commission for Lawyer Discipline v. Omar Maynez-Grijalva (SBOT# 201807447, 201901263)
to be filed in a District Court of El Paso County, Texas.
ILLINOIS LAW COURTS v TEXAS / FLORIDA LAW COURTS; HOMEOWNER DEFEATS NONBANK OCWEN
Ocwen ordinarily starts with a formal demand letter before filing a complaint and then sends the “YOU’LL NEVER RENT IN THIS TOWN AGAIN” letters. #CFPB #OCWEN #TEXAS #RENT https://t.co/bRo7g8IpDF pic.twitter.com/YHhD2IVZ3v
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) December 13, 2019
This Lawyer not only Stole the Clients Cash, he Forged Documents and Lied to obtain Lawsuit Funding Cash. He Was Allowed to Resign, No Criminal Charges.
Christopher James Norman of Killeen, contacted Prime Case Funding, saying that one of his personal-injury clients needed a cash advance on a settlement, according to the petition against him.
To secure funds, Norman gave the litigation lender phony documents, according to court documents.
But the “client” later told the lending company that there was no car accident and he wasn’t seeking funding, according to the petition.
Norman has faced three other attorney-discipline complaints by other clients for misconduct dealing with mishandling funds.
The Texas Supreme Court on Oct. 1 accepted his resignation in lieu of discipline, which has the same legal effect as disbarment. It was publicized in the Texas State Bar Journal in December, 2019.
#Justice is not available for everyone, rich or poor, in the American judicial court system and as the framers demanded in crafting the #Constitution – It is only for those with deep pockets and even deeper influence. The Fifth Circuit is unconstitutional.https://t.co/4xv2VDr417 pic.twitter.com/5WqDNrd8Lv
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) December 12, 2019
‘There was always an excuse’ | Disbarred Killeen attorney cost clients thousands, Texas Supreme Court says
Feb 23, 2020
KILLEEN, Texas — On Oct. 1, the Supreme Court of Texas said the following in an order:
“The court further concludes that Christopher James Norman’s resignation is in the best interest of the public, the profession, and Christopher James Norman.”
The order came after his clients brought a laundry list of complaints against Norman, a personal injury attorney, for failing to file cases for his clients, failing to pay medical providers, mixing personal and client funds and creating non-authentic documents, according to court documents.
But while Norman has lost his state bar card, clients said they have lost a lot more.
“My son hired him as a personal injury attorney,” Lawrence Jones said. “Didn’t seem like a bad guy. A little office over here on Trimmier.”
Matthew Jones hired Christopher Norman in July 2016 after he was hurt in a car wreck.
The Jones family told 6 News Norman was supposed to settle with the insurance company, pay the doctors, and provide Matthew with the rest of the settlement.
Lawrence said they waited on the attorney to get it sorted out for years.
“There was always an excuse. Call me in a month. Call me next month,” Lawrence said.
Matthew said they eventually were unable to contact Norman so he reached out to the Texas State Bar Association and Progressive, the insurance company, to find out what was going on.
Progressive sent him an email stating they had settled the case all the way back in 2017 and sent Norman a check for $20,000. Jones said Norman forged his signature to cash the check.
“I was shocked,” Matthew said. “What I was expecting was that nothing had been done or he hadn’t filed anything.”
The Supreme Court of Texas ordered Norman to “return any files, papers, unearned monies and other property in his possession belonging to any client or former client…” in a Oct. 1 order.
Matthew said Norman made small payments to the family but still owes them more than $3,500.
However, not all clients can be payed back for what they lost.
Delores White hired Norman in a malpractice case concerning the death of her mother in 2012. She said Norman strung them along for years, but then claimed to have settled the case in 2017. She said he had documents with the doctor’s name on it for the family to sign.
“It had the doctor’s name on it,” White said. “It had that we were settling for the amount that we settled for which was $740,000. My brother came in from Austin and signed. My sister in Killeen signed. I signed lastly.”
But Supreme Court of Texas documents stated, “Respondent (Norman) never filed a lawsuit in the matter and the statute of limitations bars the O’Neil clients for any potential remedy or damages.”
White has no idea what the document she signed was, though she believes it was fake, and has lost the opportunity to refile the suit.
“Something needs to be done about him and the things that he is doing to me, and to other people,” White said. “You just can’t get away with these kinds of things. It doesn’t seem right. “In my opinion, he needs to be in jail.”
Supreme Court of Texas documents detail three other complaints against Norman where he never filed cases, allegedly committed fraud, and didn’t pay medical providers before his resignation.
6 News reached out to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel to ask what additional actions would be taken against Norman after so many complaints. We received an unexpected answer.
“Once we disbar someone or they resign, there isn’t much we can do to them,” Public Affairs Counsel Claire Reynolds said. “If they’re still taking on clients we would want people to let us know, because the Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee could file suit against them, or law enforcement could act.”
That means, if the Jones family wanted Norman to face criminal charges, they would have to start the case with local law enforcement.
Lawrence was not happy to hear the family would be starting the new case at square one.
“It’s beyond surprising, It sounds to me like if you are an attorney you have a different angle on the law,” Lawrence said. “You can’t be prosecuted unless people take into their own hands.
But while the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel can’t take additional action against an attorney, there is another option open to people looking for help after problems with an attorney.
The State Bar of Texas has a Client Security Fund, which is funded by attorney fees, to provide reimbursement for clients after an attorney steals their settlement or still owes them money after a case.
“Clients can apply to the fund for a grant in one of two situations: (a) the attorney still owes them unearned fees; and (b) the attorney stole settlement funds,” Reynolds said. “There are some limitations on the fund. The maximum amount anyone can be reimbursed is $40,000,” Reynolds said.
“In addition, we can’t grant money for what the attorney ‘should have’ gotten for the client if they’d done a better job. We can only grant money that came into the possession of the attorney but rightfully belongs to the client. Anyone who wants to apply should do so within four years of finding out.”
p.s. This ‘Public Reprimand’ of Judge James Oakley never made it to publication in the @statebaroftexas Journal
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) December 17, 2019
The independent study and data devastatingly confirms a significant relationship between business and bank contributions to #Texas State Supreme Court justices and the votes of those justices in cases involving these corporations and banks. #Corruption https://t.co/l3Mu4gZwqi pic.twitter.com/iSFRNHC6pG
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) December 14, 2019