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 Suit Against Texas State Securities Board for Failure to Release Documents Regarding Attorney General Candidate Ken Paxton

Today the Texas Coalition for Lawyer Accountability (“TCLA”), through its Acting Executive Director, Erica Gammill, is filing a lawsuit against the Texas State Securities Board (“SSB”) to obtain disclosure of public records relating to Ken Paxton.[1] Sections 28A and 28B of the Texas Securities Act allow a court to order release of the documents sought for “good cause shown.” Good cause for disclosure exists for two reasons. You can download the Original Petition filed today, here. First, Mr. Paxton is a lawyer, and on August 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Mr. Paxton because he violated the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The documents withheld by the SSB contain important evidence relevant to those disciplinary charges. Paxton’s violations include: *(1) Disciplinary Rule 8.04(a)(2), which prohibits a Texas lawyer from committing “any . . . criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects,” and *(2) Disciplinary Rule 8.04(a)(3), which prohibits a Texas lawyer from engaging in conduct involving “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Mr. Paxton violated Disciplinary Rule 8.04(a)(2) by committing a third degree felony. On May 2, 2014, Texas Securities Commissioner John Morgan signed a Disciplinary Order against Mr. Paxton. The Order …

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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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Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability (TCLA) Files Suit Against Texas State Securities Board for Failure to Release Documents Regarding Attorney General Candidate Ken Paxton

Today the Texas Coalition for Lawyer Accountability (“TCLA”), through its Acting Executive Director, Erica Gammill, is filing a lawsuit against the Texas State Securities Board (“SSB”) to obtain disclosure of public records relating to Ken Paxton.[1] Sections 28A and 28B of the Texas Securities Act allow a court to order release of the documents sought for “good cause shown.” Good cause for disclosure exists for two reasons. You can download the Original Petition filed today, here. First, Mr. Paxton is a lawyer, and on August 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Mr. Paxton because he violated the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The documents withheld by the SSB contain important evidence relevant to those disciplinary charges. Paxton’s violations include: *(1) Disciplinary Rule 8.04(a)(2), which prohibits a Texas lawyer from committing “any . . . criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects,” and *(2) Disciplinary Rule 8.04(a)(3), which prohibits a Texas lawyer from engaging in conduct involving “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Mr. Paxton violated Disciplinary Rule 8.04(a)(2) by committing a third degree felony. On May 2, 2014, Texas Securities Commissioner John Morgan signed a Disciplinary Order against Mr. Paxton. The Order …

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