At a court hearing on August 29, 2018, I questioned attorney Jay B. Goss of Bryan, Texas about how he was hired by a dead woman. Last week, I received a copy of the transcript, and here’s an excerpt:
[Goss]: Of a what?
[Clevenger]: A seance, where someone is conjured up from the dead to communicate with them?
[Goss]: I don’t think.
[Clevenger]: Well, then, how is it you know what Ms. Hargrave is saying and what she’s pleading, if she’s dead?
[Goss]: Because I pled it for her.
[Clevenger]: So you’re speaking on behalf of the dead?
[Goss]: Well, I’m speaking on behalf of her and Jim, her husband…
Transcript, pp. 18-19. It gets better. Before receiving the transcript, I filed a bar grievance against Goss for unlawfully soliciting the dead, and I included a copy of the answer that he filed on behalf of the departed Susan Hargraves, whom he claims to represent. A few days ago, I received a letter from the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel dismissing the grievance, claiming that I had not “provided enough information for us to determine whether the lawyer had violated any disciplinary rules.” Seriously, were they expecting me to send them a corpse? Or should I have written my complaint in crayon?
I’ve always resented the undue political influence exerted by dead people in my home state (thus I’ve never been a fan of that reprobate Lyndon B. Johnson, who could raise dead Mexicans from the grave and have them walk across the Rio Grande to vote in alphabetical order). The dead cause enough trouble by voting, and I’m not real happy that the Texas bar has decided to let them hire lawyers, so I decided to saddle up my trusty steed Rocinante and make another run at the windmill. I re-filed the grievance, which you can read by clicking here, and this time I attached the transcript.
Speaking of Rocinante, we’ve been busy lately, tilting at windmills in California, Maryland, and D.C. I guess I should take some consolation in the fact that bar prosecutors in most states (all states?) are tainted and corrupt, not just in Texas. I’ve been told that the Arkansas bar will decide next week whether it will file charges against Hillary Clinton, but given what happened in Maryland and D.C., I’m not holding my breath.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
Full disclosure: I am trying to set up Texas bar prosecutors for a big black eye. The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel has an unwritten rule that it will not prosecute politically-influential attorneys, e.g., it will not prosecute Jay Goss because he formerly served on a state bar grievance committee. Below I have reprinted an August 2, 2018 bar grievance that I filed against Goss and some other lawyers who have previously held office in the state bar, and the violations are egregious. When all charges are dismissed (as they probably will be), and the dismissals are rubber-stamped by the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals (as they always are), I plan to ask the Texas Supreme Court to intervene and burn down the whorehouse.
If you are a Texas lawyer, you can use all of this to your advantage. In my June 21, 2018 post, I explained how attorneys can build a selective-prosecution defense by writing to their elected officials about corruption in the state bar. If the bar tries to prosecute you after covering up for big shot attorneys who switch sides on their clients or tamper with government records, you can then seek an injunction in federal court. I’m testing it in California right now.
One more thing: in my July 9, 2018 post, I mentioned a judicial misconduct complaint that I filed against Jay Goss’s former law partner, i.e., Judge Kyle Hawthorne. In that post, I noted that Goss’s firm still hosts the email address that Judge Hawthorne used when he was a partner, and that the account is still active. Normally, when an attorney leaves a firm, the account is deactivated and any emails that it receives generate an automatic reply providing the lawyer’s new contact information.
At the August 29, 2018 hearing, I asked Goss why his firm had not done that, and he claimed that his firm wanted to keep the account open in case any potential clients sent an email to that address (which leads me to wonder if they’re really that hard up for business). He also admitted on pages 8-9 of the transcript that he reads the emails that go into that account, he decides what gets forwarded to the judge, and he decided not to forward some of my emails to the judge.
I really don’t think my opposing counsel should have that power. Unfortunately, the visiting judge who presided over that hearing decided that it was insufficient reason to remove Judge Hawthorne from the case. In other words, Judge Hawthorne can keep presiding over cases where I represent parties against Jay Goss, and I’m supposed to go along with it and pretend that the game is not rigged.
Stay tuned. Rocinante and I are plotting our next move.
GRIEVANCE AGAINST POLITICALLY-PROTECTED LAWYERS
Below is the text of my August 2, 2018 grievance against Jay Goss, former grievance committee member (and Judge-elect) Bryan F. “Rusty” Russ, and former chairman of the Board of Disciplinary Appeals Gaines West. It is addressed to Chief Disciplinary Counsel Linda Acevedo.
I serve as executive director of The Transparency Project, a non-profit Texas corporation that promotes transparency and accountability among judges and lawyers. I read with great interest your column in the June 2018 edition of the Texas Bar Journal about reforms to the disciplinary process, and I wish to file grievances against several attorneys, in large part to determine whether anything has truly changed.
Over many years, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel has demonstrated a pattern of protecting politically-influential lawyers, particularly those who have served on grievance committees or held office in the state bar. Herein I will outline egregious misconduct by the following attorneys: (1) Gaines F. West, II (SBOT #21197500), a former chairman of the Grievance Oversight Committee and Board of Disciplinary Appeals; (2) Bryan F. “Rusty” Russ, Jr. (SBOT #17405010), a former grievance committee member; and (3) Jay B. Goss (SBOT #08222600), a former grievance committee member. I also wish to file a grievance against Karl C. Hoppess (SBOT #09990000), who is not a former grievance committee member, but was intimately involved in the same misconduct as Mr. Goss.
Gaines F. West II
On the enclosed computer disk, you will find a motion to disqualify Mr. West from from Clayton Williams Energy, Inc. v. Robert A. Williamson, et al., Cause No. 14-001392-CV-361, 361st District Court of Brazos County, along with its evidentiary exhibits. As you can see from that motion and its exhibits, Mr. West “switched sides” in a lawsuit, i.e., he withdrew from representing one group of clients and then undertook representation of an adverse party in the same lawsuit.
Mr. West will undoubtedly point out that the district court refused to disqualify him, and the Tenth Court of Appeals refused to grant mandamus (the Tenth Court offered no explanation for its decision, and the case was settled before my clients could petition the Texas Supreme Court). Because of his political connections, Mr. West can get away with things that would get most attorneys sanctioned. Regardless, the courts’ refusal to disqualify him does not change the fact that Mr. West breached his fiduciary duties to his former clients and violated Rules 1.09, 1.15, and 3.08 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.
Bryan F. “Rusty” Russ, Jr.
On the enclosed disk, I have included a October 26, 2017 order denying Mr. Russ’s motion for summary judgment in Milton Johnson v. Bryan F. Russ, Jr., Case No. Case 6:16-cv-00284-RP (W.D.Tex.). I have also included his motion for summary judgment and my client’s response, along with their respective exhibits. As you will see from the court’s opinion, there is probable cause to believe that Mr. Russ tampered with petition signatures while was serving as the city attorney for Hearne, Texas, and that he did so for the purpose of keeping an item off of the election ballot. By tampering with the petitions, Mr. Russ committed crimes under both state and federal law, and he violated Rules 8.04(a)(2) and (a)(3).
As you can see from your own records, I have previously filed several other grievances against Mr. Russ. Time and again, your office has bent itself over backwards to cover up his misconduct. For example, your office was provided with undisputed evidence that Mr. Russ and his law partner perpetrated a seven-figure real estate fraud (much of the evidence was provided by the FBI), and I was asked by one of your prosecutors to provide guidance on that case because I had been involved in related civil litigation. Inexplicably, the case was buried a short time later.
I have also filed grievances regarding multiple and egregious conflicts of interest, e.g., where Mr. Russ represented private clients against his municipal clients while he was still serving as city attorney. None of those conflicts had been waived, but your office still refused to prosecute. I hope this grievance will not suffer the same fate.
Jay B. Goss and Karl C. Hoppess
According to testimony at a March 28, 2017 hearing in Bryan, attorneys Jay Goss and Karl Hoppess filed suit on behalf of numerous individuals without their knowledge or permission. Furthermore, Mr. Goss solicited at least one client after initially filing suit without her permission, thus it appears that he engaged in barratry, a third-degree felony under Texas Penal Code § 38.12 and a clear violation of Rule 8.04(a)(9) of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. A transcript of the March 28, 2017 hearing can be found on the enclosed computer disk.
The evidence indicates that each of the foregoing attorneys has engaged in serious misconduct. I sincerely hope that your office has changed its way of doing business, and that it will start investigating and prosecuting attorneys without regard to their political influence.
/s/ Ty Clevenger