by Ty Clevenger
The State Bar of Texas’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (“OCDC”) apparently wants to send me a message. For years now, I’ve blogged about cronyism and corruption in the state bar, and I recently blogged about OCDC’s refusal to investigate a lawyer who purported to have been retained by a dead woman.
Last week, I received three more letters from OCDC refusing to investigate attorneys who variously (1) switched sides in a lawsuit, purporting to represent new clients against their former clients in the same case; (2) tampered with official records in an attempt to interfere with an election; and (3) filed lawsuits without the knowledge or permission of their purported clients. On the same day, I received a letter from OCDC indicating that I was under investigation.
Today, I emailed Stephanie Lowe, who was appointed to the newly-created position of ombudsman for the state bar’s disciplinary system:
Below is a blog post that I wrote recently, and it includes copies of bar grievances that I filed against four attorneys. I’m a member of the SBOT myself, and I’m a long-time critic of cronyism and favoritism in the OCDC.
As you can see from the post, the misconduct that I reported was egregious (and some of it was criminal), but OCDC has since dismissed three of the four grievances without an investigation on the preposterous grounds that the conduct I described (e.g., engaging in barratry or filing pleadings on behalf of a dead woman) was not a violation of the rules. OCDC dismissed the fourth grievance (against Bryan F. Russ, Jr.) on the grounds that my amended grievance did not “provide new or additional evidence which would demonstrate misconduct on the party of the lawyers.” On the contrary, I included a subsequently-issued federal court summary judgment order holding that there was sufficient evidence that Mr. Russ tampered with official records for the purpose of interfering with an election.
At the same time OCDC refused to investigate the matters above, it opened an investigation of me. Given the complainant’s allegations against me, I am not necessarily faulting OCDC for opening an investigation (the complainant withheld documents that refuted his allegations, and I have attached his complaint and my response). Nonetheless, his allegations against me are mild compared to the allegations set forth in my grievances against Gaines West, Jay Goss, Karl Hoppess, and Mr. Russ.
As explained in my blog post and the letter therein, OCDC has a long history of protecting politically-influential lawyers, particularly those who have held office in the SBOT or served on a grievance committee like Mr. West, Mr. Russ, and Mr. Goss. OCDC also has a history of retaliating against lawyers who criticize its cronyism.
I request that you look into these matters, and I request the opportunity to speak with you by phone. My cell is — — —-. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Ms. Lowe’s position was created in response to widespread criticism of the cronyism and corruption in OCDC. The culture of corruption has flourished under Chief Disciplinary Counsel Linda Acevedo, but fortunately she is retiring at the end of the year. Let’s hope her successor — and Ms. Lowe — can clean up the mess.
Meanwhile, I’m hoping OCDC will dismiss the frivolous grievance against me. If not, I plan to demand a jury trial, file counter-claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for First Amendment retaliation and selective prosecution, and ask the court to enjoin the OCDC from further harassment and favoritism.
Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel
The Texas attorney discipline system is administered by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (CDC), which is designed to be the “Bar’s law office,” and whose work is overseen by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline. The CDC represents the Commission in disciplinary litigation. Professionalism and results are directly tied to the public’s perception of the ability of the State Bar of Texas to discipline its own lawyers and protect the public from unethical practitioners. In recognition of this close connection, emphasis is placed on the quality of disciplinary prosecutions, identification of disability or impairment problems, solutions for attorneys in need of law practice management or other basic skills, and innovative ways to maintain open communication between the public and the Bar.
The Chief Disciplinary Counsel operates the discipline system with 91 full-time employees, including 34 lawyers, 11 investigators, 31 legal support staff, 11 administrative support staff, and 4 administrative managers. In addition to its headquarters in Austin, the CDC has Regional Offices in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. Each Regional Office is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of disciplinary matters within its region and is managed by a Regional Counsel.