Well Respected Attorney Gotro Correctly Asked a Judge for his Recusal, and won a Mistrial in the Highly Publicized Twin Peak Trial.
The Judiciary Were Not Happy. She Was then Hunted, Stalked and Skewered to set an Example.
A dynamic Houston trial attorney widely respected for her work freeing a Katy football coach from prison can’t practice law for the next three years after the State Bar of Texas suspended her license following a trio of grievances.
The complaints against Casie Gotro all centered on three similar claims that she failed to keep clients up to date on the status of their cases and never returned money once she stopped representing them. When Gotro did not respond to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s questions about the complaints, the state suspended her license and fined her nearly $60,000, records show.
But even before the disciplinary sanctions issued effective in May, Gotro had already vanished from the Houston legal scene, sparking speculation and concern among the defense bar. Calls to her phone were not answered on Thursday.
“I wish I knew what happened to her,” said Kristin Guiney, a former Harris County felony court judge. “For as long as I’ve known her, Casie has been a ferocious advocate for her criminal clients and a very talented attorney.”
Gotro made a name for herself as an intense lawyer with a cynical wit and a willingness to put in long hours. In 2017, she won a mistrial for the only man tried after the Twin Peaks sports bar shootout in Waco that left nine people dead and netted more than 170 arrests. The gunbattle stemmed from a melee involving two feuding biker clubs and responding police — and it’s still not clear who fired the fatal shots.
She also helped free football coach David Temple, after a Texas appeals court decided prosecutors had failed to turn over key evidence in a timely manner. The Katy man spent nearly a decade in prison after he was convicted of killing his pregnant wife. He was released in 2016 and this month is scheduled for retrial.
The following year, Gotro and co-counsel Clint Broden were honored by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association as lawyers of the year.
“She worked a case harder than anybody,” said Houston attorney Mark Bennett. “She would go to the office and it would be like the conspiracy theory scenes in the movies where the person has the pictures and notes connected with red strings — and it was really like that. That’s how she prepared a case. And she would find things that nobody else found.”
But on the heels of her legal successes, Gotro began to retreat from the courthouse. That fall, she was deemed ineligible to practice in the state for failure to pay dues, according to media reports at the time.
Then in April of this year, the state bar handed down sanctions — an active suspension and two probated suspensions — along with a public reprimand. It’s not clear who filed the grievances, and the criminal defendants whose cases sparked the complaints could not be reached Thursday for comment.
In addition to the suspensions and fines, the state bar also ordered that Gotro get a psychological assessment and seek treatment, if recommended.
Houston defense attorney Patrick McCann said he didn’t know any details of the complaints against Gotro, though he later handled the appeal for one of the cases in question. But said that to the state bar, Gotro’s failure to respond may have been just as damning as any mishandling of the money.
“If you do not answer a grievance,” he said, “you’re presumed guilty.”
When reached for comment Thursday, Gotro’s family said they had not heard of the grievances and did not wish to speak on the record.
Colleagues, meanwhile, described Gotro’s troubles with the bar and her retreat from the law as a sign that she’d lost faith in the system and simply did not want to be found.
“This work has a cost,” McCann said. “I think when you spend all your time trying to tilt at windmills, sometimes the windmills get you.”
Twin Peaks – An Extract of the Start of the End for Lawyer Casie Gotro
At least four defense attorneys in the case found some traction. Finally the Texas judiciary stopped acting like a lynch mob. Two days ago defenders Clint Broden, Susan Criss and Millie L. Thompson convinced a judge named James Morgan to remove Strother from their cases. All of them had been denied speedy trials for their clients because, for whatever reason, Jarrett thought he could “win” against Carrizal – as if Carrizal’s life was just another Baylor football game.
Reyna and Strother began maneuvering to “do” Carrizal first when Carrizal was represented by a Stephenville, Texas general practice lawyer named Landon Northcutt. Northcutt agreed to defend Carrizal out of the goodness of his heart. Strother and the prosecutors, working together like the spokes of a wheel, overwhelmed Northcutt with tiny bites of evidence hidden in terabytes of telephone books, assigned him a trial date he did not want and refused to continue it.
So Northcutt quit and a small, pretty, bright, driven, profane Fury named Casie (pronounced like Casey at the Bat) Gotro took his place – presumably to prove something to herself that might be true but usually isn’t about the American criminal justice system.
She could be knee deep in a big money divorce this hurricane season. Instead she is defending a Dallas Bandido who was charged with murder and aggravated assault after sheltering his bleeding father in his arms – as police bullets buzzed past his face and over his head.
Gotro lit up the case about a minute after she entered it.
On multiple occasions, Jarrett has asked Strother to protect him from her. Jarrett, of all people, has accused Gotro of unprofessionalism. Strother has lowered his head in histrionic exasperation every time she has refused to let the judge doubletalk her. Strother, who like all crooked and incompetent judges likes to make his rulings from the bench and try his cases in camera, has handled most of the pretrial proceedings in his chambers.
At a status hearing this morning Gotro was at it again. She was righteous and furious for all of Reyna’s and Jarrett’s and Dillon’s and Johnson’s and Strother’s victims. She called both Strother and Jarrett liars. “I’ve had it with you calling me a liar,” Jarrett complained.
Jarrett’s Lips Were Moving
Gotro told him, “Please, please lie on the record some more.”
Strother taunted her. “She has threatened to file a motion to have me recused, but she has not.”
“I am surprised that your honor has not recused himself,” she said.
“Stop it! Stop it,” Strother said when she finally got to him.
Eventually, she did. She handed the bailiff a handwritten motion to remove Strother from the Carrizal case. The bailiff handed the motion to the judge.