About

The Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability (TCLA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and advocating the public interest to hold the Texas Legal profession accountable to its statutory, constitutional, and ethical obligations. Coalition members include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Public Citizen, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), Texas Watch Foundation, and the Texas Housing Justice League (THJL). TCLA filed the disciplinary complaint that resulted in disbarment of Ken Anderson for his misconduct in the Michael Morton case.


 

The Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability was established in 2010, initially to provide input from the public perspective on the proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.  The fact that public advocates were not involved in the lengthy drafting process was apparent from the proposed amendments that were published for comment.  A number of the proposals posed significant risk to the interests of clients and the public as a whole.

Executive director Julie Oliver provided oral testimony at public hearings held by the State Bar on the proposed amendments.  Formal written comments on behalf of TCLA were submitted to the Texas Supreme Court.  The final draft issued by the court for a referendum vote of the State Bar membership addressed some of the minor concerns of TCLA.  However, some of the most egregious provisions from the public’s perspective were still included.  As a result, TCLA advocated for the membership to vote against all parts of the referendum.  The membership overwhelmingly defeated the proposed amendments in the referendum vote in early 2011.

In April 2011, TCLA provided input on behalf of the public into the State Bar budget process.  The major concern expressed was the inadequacy of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline budget given the seriously declining number of disciplinary actions completed against Texas attorneys, despite significant increases in the number of attorneys.

The Grievance Oversight Committee (GOC) of the Texas Supreme Court monitors the attorney grievance process and makes recommendations to the court for its improvement.  The 2011 GOC Report raised concerns about two important components of the system, the Client Attorney Assistance Program and the onbudsman.  Although these two programs are intended to make the system more user friendly and better protect the public, a number of problems were identified.

The Supreme Court solicited feedback from affected parties to the GOC report and TCLA submitted its analysis of the GOC report to the court.  TCLA specifically concurred with most of the concerns and recommendations raised by the GOC regarding CAAP and the CDC ombudsman and provided additional recommendations as well.  The TCLA analysis went further to address the alarming decline in discipline numbers without any plausible explanation.  TCLA’s major recommendation was for the court to approve and commission an independent and long-overdue assessment of the Texas attorney grievance system.

Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability (TCLA) Files Grievance Against Attorney General Candidate Ken Paxton

Today the Texas Coalition for Lawyer Accountability (TCLA), through its Acting Executive Director, Erica Gammill, is filing a disciplinary complaint against Ken Paxton based on numerous violations of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”). Ken Paxton is the Republican nominee for Texas Attorney General. On April 9, 2014, the State Bar filed a disciplinary suit against the Libertarian nominee for Texas Attorney General. Fairness requires equal application of disciplinary enforcement, regardless of political party affiliation. Mr. Paxton has recently acknowledged under oath that he committed several violations of the Texas Securities Act by acting as a paid investment adviser representative for Mowery Capital Management, LLC (“MCM”) without registering with the Texas Securities Commission. On May 2, 2014, Texas Securities Commissioner John Morgan signed a Disciplinary Order against Mr. Paxton. The Disciplinary Order found that Mr. Paxton had violated Section 12.B of the Texas Securities Act by acting as a paid investment adviser representative for MCM without registering with the Texas Securities Commission. Mr. Paxton admitted to this illegal and unethical conduct by signing a sworn acknowledgement. By failing to register as required by the Texas Securities Act, Mr. Paxton also apparently committed a third-degree felony under Section …

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Ken Anderson’s law license officially canceled

By Chuck Lindell     Nov. 19th, 2013 American-Statesman Staff The Texas Supreme Court canceled Ken Anderson’s law license Tuesday. Anderson had agreed to give up his law license to settle a civil lawsuit, filed by the State Bar of Texas, that accused him of professional misconduct in his prosecution of Michael Morton in 1986-87. In an order signed by all nine justices, the Supreme Court determined that accepting Anderson’s resignation was “in the best interest of the public and the profession.” “The court deems the professional misconduct (of Anderson) conclusively established for all purposes,” the order read. “Ken Anderson must immediately surrender his state bar card and Texas law license to the clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas.” Without a license, Anderson is barred from practicing law, giving legal advice or describing himself as an attorney. Anderson, Williamson County’s district attorney for 16 years before he became a state district judge in 2002, recently spent four days in jail after being found in contempt of court for telling Morton’s trial judge in 1987 that he had no favorable evidence to provide the defense. Such evidence was later found in Anderson’s trial file. Morton served almost 25 years in prison before he …

Read more

Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability (TCLA) Files Grievance Against Attorney General Candidate Ken Paxton

Today the Texas Coalition for Lawyer Accountability (TCLA), through its Acting Executive Director, Erica Gammill, is filing a disciplinary complaint against Ken Paxton based on numerous violations of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”). Ken Paxton is the Republican nominee for Texas Attorney General. On April 9, 2014, the State Bar filed a disciplinary suit against the Libertarian nominee for Texas Attorney General. Fairness requires equal application of disciplinary enforcement, regardless of political party affiliation. Mr. Paxton has recently acknowledged under oath that he committed several violations of the Texas Securities Act by acting as a paid investment adviser representative for Mowery Capital Management, LLC (“MCM”) without registering with the Texas Securities Commission. On May 2, 2014, Texas Securities Commissioner John Morgan signed a Disciplinary Order against Mr. Paxton. The Disciplinary Order found that Mr. Paxton had violated Section 12.B of the Texas Securities Act by acting as a paid investment adviser representative for MCM without registering with the Texas Securities Commission. Mr. Paxton admitted to this illegal and unethical conduct by signing a sworn acknowledgement. By failing to register as required by the Texas Securities Act, Mr. Paxton also apparently committed a third-degree felony under Section …

Read more

Ken Anderson’s law license officially canceled

By Chuck Lindell     Nov. 19th, 2013 American-Statesman Staff The Texas Supreme Court canceled Ken Anderson’s law license Tuesday. Anderson had agreed to give up his law license to settle a civil lawsuit, filed by the State Bar of Texas, that accused him of professional misconduct in his prosecution of Michael Morton in 1986-87. In an order signed by all nine justices, the Supreme Court determined that accepting Anderson’s resignation was “in the best interest of the public and the profession.” “The court deems the professional misconduct (of Anderson) conclusively established for all purposes,” the order read. “Ken Anderson must immediately surrender his state bar card and Texas law license to the clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas.” Without a license, Anderson is barred from practicing law, giving legal advice or describing himself as an attorney. Anderson, Williamson County’s district attorney for 16 years before he became a state district judge in 2002, recently spent four days in jail after being found in contempt of court for telling Morton’s trial judge in 1987 that he had no favorable evidence to provide the defense. Such evidence was later found in Anderson’s trial file. Morton served almost 25 years in prison before he …

Read more