This afternoon Judge H.D. Black, Jr. dismissed the lawsuit accusing former Robertson County District Attorney John C. Paschall of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the estate of Marium Oscar after the Texas Attorney General’s Office failed to show up for a hearing. Judge Black also referred the still-pending probate case back to Robertson County Judge Jan Roe, who happens to be a political ally of Paschall and his attorney as well as a client of that attorney, Bryan F. “Rusty” Russ, III.
Conflict of interest? There ain’t no such thing in Booger County. As I reported last week, Rusty asked Judge Black to transfer the case from district court back to county court, even though the case originated in county court and Paschall was responsible for transferring it to district court in the first place. We now have a pattern: every time a judge realizes that Paschall has swindled the estate, Paschall requests a transfer to a new judge who happens to be a political crony.
You may recall that Judge Black ordered Paschall to deposit more than $86,000 of estate funds in the registry of the court, and Paschall brought the money to the district clerk in a brown paper bag. To this day, Paschall refuses to disclose the source of the cash. You may also recall that I represented the Calvert Historical Foundation in the lawsuit against Paschall until Rusty’s and Paschall’s allies took over the organization, ousted its president, and fired me (even though I was representing the foundation for free).
The dereliction of the Texas Attorney General’s Office is hard to fathom. All of the money from Ms. Oscar’s estate was supposed to go to a charitable trust and, according to the Texas Supreme Court, “it is the certain duty of the Attorney General to invoke the powers inherent in our courts to prevent an abuse of a charitable trust…” Lokey v. Texas Methodist Foundation, 479 S.W.2d 260, 265 (Tex. 1972). For more than three years, I have begged the charitable trusts division of the AG’s office to pull its head out of the sand and intervene in the case. Susan Staricka, a senior attorney in the charitable trusts division, would not even return my phone calls. She told third parties that she would be present for today’s hearing, but yesterday she called the clerk’s office and said nobody would be coming.
Never mind the fact that the state bar has filed charges against Paschall, the Texas Rangers are investigating, and a special prosecutor* has been appointed, the charitable trusts division steadfastly refuses to protect Ms. Oscar’s bequest. The politics of the situation don’t even make sense: State Senator Charles Schwertner tried to get the AG’s attention, and the charitable trusts division still remained on the sidelines. God help you if you ever decide to give money to a charitable trust in this state, because the AG’s office is not going to lift a finger to protect your bequest or donation. Maybe the legislature needs to summon Ms. Staricka and Robert O’Keefe, who oversees the charitable trusts division, to explain why the division refuses to do its job.
Meanwhile, back in Booger County, the Calvert Historical Foundation walked away from an easy $86,000 even though its new attorney, Stephen Boykin, acknowledged at today’s hearing that the foundation is flat broke. (So who paid Boykin?) As I reported last week, Boykin is a crony of Rusty and Paschall, and he does pretty much whatever Rusty tells him.
Here’s the real kicker: Boykin mentioned the foundation’s financial condition because he asked Judge Black to make me personally responsible for court costs. Boykin claimed that I did not have authority to incur the costs on behalf of the foundation. He can say that kind of stuff in court, because his statements during a court hearing are immune from suit. If he says that outside the courtroom, however, I have the documents to support a straightforward lawsuit against him for defamation. In any event, I guess I should be grateful that Paschall’s cronies didn’t try to frame me for barratry for a third time.
Under normal circumstances, I would not be surprised if Judge Roe gave the $86K back to Paschall and he split the money with Rusty and perhaps some of the cronies who took over the Calvert Historical Foundation. Since the Rangers are investigating, I’m not sure what she will do… wait a minute, I take that back. I know exactly what she will do: she will do whatever Rusty tells her to do.
Judge Roe is not a lawyer, you see, but Rusty is her legal adviser. And if you think it far-fetched to believe that Rusty would advise her what do with a case involving his client, i.e., Paschall, consider the bar grievance that I filed against Rusty in 2013 (below). Rusty was trying to represent people on both sides of the same case. In particular, Rusty gave advice to a client about whether his organization should join the lawsuit that accused Paschall of stealing from the Oscar estate, even though Rusty was already representing Paschall. Rusty also gave advice to the City of Calvert, where he serves as city attorney, about whether it should join the lawsuit against Paschall. Apparently (and unsurprisingly), Rusty convinced both clients not to sue Paschall.
The first link at the bottom of this post as an e-mail exchange where I confronted Rusty about trying to represent clients on both sides of the same case. The link below that is the bar grievance against Rusty, and then our letters back and forth to the state bar. In Booger County, you see, there is no such thing as a conflict of interest.
By the way, Judge Roe is up for re-election this year. If you want more of the same in Booger County, be sure to vote for her in November.
* An assistant attorney general from the criminal division was appointed special prosecutor late last year. You might argue that the charitable trusts division opted to do nothing because an assistant AG was serving as special prosecutor. There are two problems with that argument. First, the charitable trusts division did nothing for the two years before a special prosecutor was appointed. Second, the special prosecutor is charged with convicting the guilty, not recovering the misappropriated assets of the trust.
* July 13, 2013 E-mail exchange between Ty Clevenger and Rusty Russ
* July 16, 2013 Judicial Complaint against Rusty Russ
* July 26, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 9, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 15, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 16, 2013 Letter from Rusty Russ to the State Bar of Texas
* August 19, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 21, 2013 Letter from Rusty Russ to the State Bar of Texas
* August 22, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas