Gov Abbott

You’re Being Fooled Citizens. 13 Privately Disciplined Texas Lawyers Surpasses the 8 Public Slaps by the Texas Bar

LIT’s been watching as the public sanctions quietly erode and the State Bar of Texas has now made it official.

Seven Lawyers, and one moonlighting ‘Judge’ Bar Slapped and Two “Outlaws in Robes” aka Judges Disciplined by SCJC in April 2021

Transparency is off the table for the public when it comes to lawyers behavin’ badly in Texas. Watch out folks, there’s 13 lawyers out there who ain’t behavin’ but you’ll never know their names.

APR 2, 2021

Disciplinary Actions — April 2021 State Bar lists (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

SUSPENSION

On February 10, 2021, Henri M. Cosey [#00783883], 66, of Sugar Land, received a two-year partially probated suspension effective March 1, 2021, with the first six months actively suspended and the remainder probated.

An evidentiary panel of the District 5 Grievance Committee found that in representing the complainant in a business financial transaction, Cosey neglected the legal matter entrusted to him.

Cosey failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

Upon receiving funds or other property, Cosey failed to promptly notify the client and failed to promptly render a full accounting regarding such property.

Cosey violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 1.14(b).

He was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution and $1,500 in attorneys’ fees.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On January 29, 2021, Syria Sinoski [#24079344], 43, of Houston, accepted a public reprimand.

An investigatory panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing a client, Sinoski neglected a legal matter entrusted to her and frequently failed to carry out completely the obligations that she owed to the client.

Sinoski violated Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rules 1.01(b)(1) and 1.01(b)(2).

She was ordered to pay $1,000 in attorneys’ fees.

Rest of the state

JUDICIAL ACTIONS

To read the entire public sanctions, go to scjc.texas.gov.

On January 21, 2021, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public reprimand and order of additional education to Thomas G. Jones, justice of the peace, Precinct 1, Place 1, Dallas, Dallas County. Jones has filed an appeal of his sanction to a special court of review. (A Repeat Offender)

On February 23, 2021, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued an order of suspension without pay to Tomas “Tommy” Ramirez III, justice of the peace, Precinct 4, Devine, Medina County.

SUSPENSION

On January 22, 2021, Sarah Hoffman [#24075146], 37, of Dallas, received a two-year partially probated suspension effective February 15, 2021, with the first year actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 14 Grievance Committee found that on November 21, 2017, Hoffman was hired to prepare a will. Hoffman was paid $1,200 for the legal representation. During the representation, Hoffman neglected the legal matter and failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the case. Upon termination of representation, Hoffman failed to refund unearned fees. Hoffman also failed to timely submit a response to the grievance. Hoffman violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(8). Hoffman was ordered to pay $1,200 in restitution and $1,300 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

On January 22, 2021, Sarah Hoffman [#24075146], 37, of Dallas, received a two-year partially probated suspension effective February 15, 2021, with the first six months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 14 Grievance Committee found that on September 6, 2018, Hoffman was hired to represent a client in a probate matter. Hoffman was paid $1,700 for the legal representation. During the representation, Hoffman neglected the legal matter, failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the case, and failed to explain the probate matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions about the representation. Upon termination of representation, Hoffman failed to refund unearned fees. Hoffman also failed to timely submit a response to the grievance. Hoffman violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(8). She was ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution and $1,500 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

On January 22, 2021, Sarah Hoffman [#24075146], 37, of Dallas, received a two-year partially probated suspension effective February 15, 2021, with the first 18 months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 14 Grievance Committee found that in representing two clients in separate probate matters, beginning January 30, 2017, and October 31, 2018, respectively, Hoffman neglected the clients’ legal matters, failed to keep the clients reasonably informed about the status of their cases, and failed to provide a client with a refund of unearned fees. Hoffman also failed to timely submit a response to the grievance. Hoffman violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(8). She was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution and $2,100 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

On January 15, 2021, Joe Luis Luna [#12688900], 62, of Crystal City, accepted a six-month fully probated suspension effective January 15, 2021.

An investigatory panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found that Luna neglected a client’s matters, failed to keep clients reasonably informed, failed to have a written statement in a contingent fee arrangement, represented clients when the representation reasonably appeared to be or became adversely limited by his duties to third persons or by his own interests, failed to make statements or disclaimers required under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct in the same language as the original solicitation communication, and engaged in conduct involving a serious crime.

Luna violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.04(d), 1.06(b)(2), 7.02(d), and 8.04(a)(2).

He agreed to pay $1,750 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On January 15, 2021, Joe Luis Luna [#12688900], 62, of Crystal City, accepted a three-month fully probated suspension effective January 15, 2021.

An investigatory panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found that Luna represented clients when the representation reasonably appeared to be or became adversely limited by his duties to third persons or by his own interests and engaged in conduct involving a serious crime.

Luna violated Rules 1.06(b)(2) and 8.04(a)(2).

He agreed to pay $1,250 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On January 29, 2021, David Saenz [#17514700], 70, of McAllen, agreed to a 24-month fully probated suspension effective February 1, 2021. An investigatory panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found that Saenz failed to communicate with a client and permitted the conduct of a non-lawyer to violate disciplinary rules. Saenz violated Rules 1.03(a) and 5.03(b)(1). He was ordered to pay $1,500 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

Saenz was listed in our April Fools list before, last year to be precise. He’s obviously prone to be foolish.

Danny boy wins hands down for most popular name in recent times on LIT, c/o the Texas bar lists. He just keeps behavin’ badly

On January 28, 2021, Daniel Robert Thering  [#24042023], 44, of Austin, agreed to a 40-month partially probated suspension effective January 15, 2023, with the first 20 months actively served and the remainder probated.

An evidentiary panel of the District 9 Grievance Committee found that in March 2018, Thering substituted into a lawsuit involving a real estate dispute as attorney of record for the complainant. On January 14, 2019, the trial court awarded the complainant damages and attorneys’ fees to be paid from the earnest money being held by the title company relative to the underlying real estate transaction. In February 2019, the title company wired the earnest money to Thering’s non-IOLTA account to satisfy the judgment. In April 2019, when the complainant inquired about the funds, Thering indicated that he could not deliver the funds to the complainant. Thering failed to safeguard the funds, failed to promptly notify the complainant upon Thering’s receipt of the funds, and failed to promptly deliver the funds to the complainant. Upon conclusion of the contingent fee matter, Thering failed to provide the complainant a written statement reflecting the remittance of settlement funds to the complainant and the method of the determination. Further, Thering failed to communicate with the complainant and Thering failed to respond to the grievance. Thering violated Rules 1.03(a), 1.04(d), 1.14(a), 1.14(b), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On January 15, 2021, Daniel Robert Thering [#24042023], 44, of Austin, agreed to a 48-month active suspension effective March 15, 2021.

The District 9 Grievance Committee found that the complainants hired Thering on March 3, 2016, for representation in a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor for injuries that the complainants sustained during a medical procedure on January 30, 2016. On March 19, 2016, Thering filed a plaintiff’s original petition and on March 20, 2016, Thering requested issuance of citation for service on the doctor. Thereafter, Thering neglected the legal matter and failed to have the doctor served with the lawsuit. Further, Thering accepted employment in a legal matter that he should have known was beyond his competence because Thering failed to obtain the necessary medical records and expert reports to prosecute a medical malpractice claim. The complainants made numerous requests for a status of the case, but Thering failed to communicate with them and failed to keep them reasonably informed as to the status of the matter. Further, even though Thering was provided notice of the complainants’ grievance, Thering failed to respond to the grievance. Thering violated Rules 1.01(a), 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

PUBLIC REPRIMAND

On January 7, 2021, Devin Michelle AuClair [#24069065], 34, of Fort Worth, agreed to a public reprimand.

An investigatory panel of the District 7 Grievance Committee found that in 2018, AuClair was representing the complainant in criminal matters.

The complainant had a court-ordered bond condition of “Do not possess or consume any alcoholic beverage.” During her representation of the complainant, AuClair and the complainant drank alcoholic beverages together on multiple occasions.

The complainant had a court-ordered bond condition of “No contact with [victims] in any manner, including third party contact.”

During her representation of the complainant, AuClair socialized with the complainant and the victims together on multiple occasions, during which drinking alcoholic beverages by the adults was involved.

AuClair assisted the complainant in engaging in conduct that she knew was fraudulent. AuClair engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

AuClair violated Rules 1.02(c) and 8.04(a)(3).

She was ordered to pay $500 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

Devin AuClair was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. In 2005 she moved to Texas. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Baylor University in 2009 and graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2012.

While at St. Mary’s Ms. AuClair received her certificate allowing her to participate in alternative dispute resolution and ability to offer mediation services.

After law school, Ms. AuClair worked for the Federal Government at the SBA office of disaster assistance as an attorney drafting federal loan documents as well as reviewing legal documents for quality control.

In law school Ms. AuClair completed two internships at separate district attorneys offices. In addition, she was an intern with the Federal Public Defenders Office for the Western District of Texas. During law school Ms. AuClair obtained the requisite training in non-family mediation / alternative dispute resolution and is able to perform mediations.

Ms. AuClair is a member of the State Bar of Texas, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Tarrant County Bar Association and the Tarrant County Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association. She was also named Top Attorney by Fort Worth Magazine in 2014.

On February 24, 2021, Stephen Dale Howen [#10117800], 60, of Waco, accepted a public reprimand.

An investigatory panel of the District 8 Grievance Committee found that on August 15, 2018, the complainant paid Howen a $500 fee to file a long-term care claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of the complainant’s in-laws.

During his representation of the complainant’s in-laws, Howen neglected the matter by failing to file a long-term care claim and failing to keep the complainant informed of the matter, despite the complainant’s requests.

Howen also failed to file a response to the complainant’s complaint. Howen violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 8.04(a)(8) of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, Article X, Section 9, State Bar Rules.

He was ordered to pay $500 in restitution.

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You’re Being Fooled Citizens. 13 Privately Disciplined Texas Lawyers Surpasses the 8 Public Slaps by the Texas Bar
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