Corruption and cover-ups at the Texas Department of Public Safety

A federal lawsuit filed today in Austin describes a culture of “cronyism and outright corruption” in the Texas Department of Public Safety, alleging that top DPS officials whitewashed a a Texas Ranger’s role in a fatal car accident and quietly demoted another ranger who had been sleeping with a murder victim’s widow while he investigated the murder.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of retired DPS investigator Darren Lubbe of Mt. Pleasant, claims DPS officials covered up criminal misconduct by senior commanders, Texas Rangers, and other favorites, yet fabricated documents in order to frame lower-ranking officers whom they disliked. (Full disclosure: I filed the lawsuit on Darren’s behalf).

The lawsuit also alleges that the chief of the Rangers Division was allowed to retire quietly in 2011 after he wrecked his car while driving drunk and then flashed his badge to the other driver and offered money for her silence. You can read the full lawsuit by clicking here.

For what it’s worth, I don’t particularly enjoy criticizing the Texas Rangers. I was once a deputy sheriff in East Texas, and my academy instructor awed us with stories about the history of the Rangers. I’ve also known some first-class Texas Rangers in my years as a reporter, cop, and lawyer. … Read more

The State Bar of Texas is trying to retaliate (again)

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:

Ms. Lowe,

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.

Read more

Dead people not only can vote in Texas, they can hire lawyers!

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:

[Clevenger]: Have you ever been part of a seance?

[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.  … Read more

Is Robert Mueller investigating the Seth Rich murder?

I can’t answer that question with certainty, but here’s an email that I sent this afternoon to an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn:

I was recently informed that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller served subpoenas for financial records pertaining to Aaron Rich, brother of Seth Rich. The special counsel apparently was/is investigating whether Wikileaks made payment to Aaron in exchange for Seth leaking Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks. Obviously, that could be relevant to the motive for Seth Rich’s murder. It might also explain Aaron’s statement in his lawsuit that he was working with “state and federal law enforcement officials” as opposed to DC law enforcement alone.
Any such subpoenas almost certainly would have been served by the FBI agents assigned to work for the special counsel. I would therefore like to know whether the FBI’s search for records included records related to the foregoing subpoenas. Thank you in advance for your assistance.


As my regular readers know, I filed a federal lawsuit in Brooklyn to force the FBI and Justice Department to release records about Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee employee who was murdered in the summer before the 2016 election. Thus far, DOJ officials have maintained that the FBI has no such records, and that DC police declined the bureau’s offer to assist the investigation. … Read more

Hearne’s police chief suspended without pay (he should have been fired)

KBTX reported Tuesday night that Hearne Police Chief Thomas Williams was suspended without pay, and Mayor Ruben Gomez advised the station to get a copy of a Texas Rangers investigative report to understand why.

No need to wait. You can read a redacted copy of the report by clicking here, and yes, it’s really bad.  I reported back in February that Chief Wiggum Williams admitted in federal court that he had flushed marijuana down a toilet at police headquarters. At the time, he testified that it was only marijuana, and he claimed that it was not evidence (prompting a very skeptical look from U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin). Here’s an excerpt from the report written by Ranger Steven Jeter:

I asked Chief Williams if he had any knowledge of anyone flushing drugs down HPD’s toilets. Chief Williams confessed he and Yohner [i.e., former Sgt. Stephen Yohner, a.k.a., “Sgt. Tallywaker“] flushed unknown amounts of marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs down the HPD toilet without a destruction order or without knowledge of whether the criminal cases related to the drugs were dispositioned. Chief Williams admitted that he and Yohner did not attempt to locate any case file or locate any suspect information for the now destroyed drugs. Chief Williams stated they flushed the drugs on Yohner’s last day at HPD.  According to Chief Williams, the drugs were found in a drawer located in Yohner’s desk at HPD. While flushing the drugs, the toilet clogged and a plunger was used to unclog the toilet.

The report also references rumors that Chief Williams was selling seized drugs on the street, as well as an accusation from a witness that Yohner either kept or sold drugs and evidence that he seized.  … Read more

Corrupt bar prosecutors may finally get prosecuted

The California Bar’s top attorney and its former chief disciplinary prosecutor are under investigation for professional misconduct, according to a letter that I received today.

Attorney Edward J. McIntyre of San Diego wrote in a letter dated August 12, 2018 that he was appointed special deputy trial counsel to investigate my bar grievances against seven current and former bar attorneys, including General Counsel Vanessa Holton and former Interim Chief Trial Counsel Gregory Dresser.

It’s been a long time coming.

I first blogged about corruption in the California Bar on May 9, 2016, after bar prosecutors violated the law by withholding exculpatory evidence during the prosecution of my former client.  Ironically, one of those bar prosecutors, Cydney Batchelor, had chaired the bar’s task force on prosecutorial misconduct.  In a bizarre attempt to defend herself, she admitted that she had withheld the exculpatory evidence, but her supervisors whitewashed the incident anyway.

Even though bar rules required Ms. Batchelor’s supervisors to appoint an outside attorney (like Mr. McIntyre) as special counsel, and even though I demanded a special counsel repeatedly, Ms. Batchelor’s superiors closed the case themselves.  A few months later, they reopened an old case against me that had been closed, and they sought my disbarment even though I had not been an active member of the California Bar in almost a decade. … Read more

Fifth Circuit investigates allegation that three bankruptcy judges covered up clerk’s sexual misconduct

It looks like the federal judiciary is having another #MeToo moment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is investigating three San Antonio bankruptcy judges in response to allegations that they covered up sexual misconduct by the former court clerk and permitted retaliation against a whistleblower, according to records provided by a former employee.

In a May 14, 2018 letter to former court employee Alan Vest, a deputy clerk wrote that Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart of the Fifth Circuit appointed himself and two other judges, Fifth Circuit Judge Leslie H. Southwick and Northern District of Texas Judge Jane H. Boyle, to investigate the complaint that Mr. Vest filed against Chief Bankruptcy Judge Ronald B. King and Bankruptcy Judges Craig A. Gargotta and H. Christopher Mott of the Western District of Texas.

The investigation has not been reported publicly, and the three judges declined my requests for comment. The former clerk, George D. Prentice, now serves as the clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Arizona in Phoenix.

According to Mr. Vest, his troubles began almost eight years ago when he questioned the appointment of an inexperienced female candidate as head of his department. The woman originally was hired as a summer intern, then suddenly left her position without giving notice, he said.

Notwithstanding the bizarre circumstances of her departure, she was allowed to return to work a few months later, he said, then she was suddenly promoted to department head over far more experienced candidates. When he shared his concerns with Mr. Prentice that “something unseemly” had happened, Mr. Prentice became irate. … Read more

Is Judge Kyle Hawthorne trying to cover up real estate fraud by his former law firm?

In my July 9, 2018 blog post, I tried to give 85th District Court Judge Kyle Hawthorne the benefit of the doubt. It turns out he didn’t deserve it.

I learned last week that Judge Hawthorne’s favoritism toward his former law firm and law partner was far worse than I knew. In fact, I believe it merits a criminal investigation.

In a motion that I filed this afternoon, I set forth evidence suggesting that Judge Hawthorne is aiding and abetting an alleged real estate fraud that involves his former partner, Jay Goss, and his former law firm, now known as Bruchez, Goss, Thornton, Meronoff & Briers, P.C.

According to the motion, it appears that Mr. Goss, his firm and his clients have tried to defraud some of the rightful owners of approximately 100 acres south of College Station. According to the pleadings and evidence in Gregg Falcone v. The Known and Unknown Heirs of Joshua Washington, Sr., Cause No. 16-000649-CV-85, the firm prepared deeds that omit the names of many of the owners, yet those same deeds purport to transfer 100 percent interest in the property to the firm’s clients. … Read more

A case study in good-old-boy judicial corruption

Buckle up, kids. It’s time to air some dirty laundry.

First, a little background: As a practicing lawyer, I’ve had to keep my mouth shut about a lot of things. Some of it is pretty straightforward, e.g., privileged communications from my client. Other things are much murkier, e.g., deciding when to speak up about the petty corruption and political favoritism that I routinely witness in the courtroom.

If you follow this blog, you might assume that I automatically blow the whistle every time I see judicial chicanery, but I don’t. I learned years ago (and the hard way) that judges are often quick to retaliate. When I speak up, there is a strong chance that one of my clients will suffer for it. I once criticized U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore in Houston for some grossly inappropriate comments that she made in the courtroom, and 361st District Judge Steve Smith decided to avenge her by retaliating against one of my clients in a totally unrelated case in Bryan. The judiciary is a fraternity, after all, and they protect their own.

On the other hand, there comes a point when playing nice is no longer good enough, because the frat boys just keep hurting your clients in order to help their friends. I reached my boiling point last week, so today I’m going to air some dirty laundry that I’ve been sitting on for years. … Read more

Maryland high court whitewashes criminal misconduct of Hillary Clinton lawyers

Yeah, I know. I shouldn’t be surprised.

Following the lead of the D.C. Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court whitewashed the criminal misconduct of three attorneys who destroyed more than 30,000 emails while representing Hillary Clinton. In an opinion issued this morning, Chief Justice Mary Ellen Barbera of the Maryland Court of Appeals wrote that a lower court lacked jurisdiction to compel the Attorney Grievance Commission to investigate David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson.

The court’s jurisdictional conclusion is a plausible one, but it cleverly sidesteps the real scandal, which is found near the beginning of the opinion: the court refused to hear my cross-petition.  Allow me to translate. When Maryland bar prosecutors appealed to the Court of Appeals (“COA”), they argued that only the COA could compel them to investigate Mr. Kendall, Ms. Mills, and Ms. Samuelson. If that’s true, I responded, then the COA itself should order bar prosecutors to investigate.  The COA’s response? It simply refused to hear my argument, and it did so without any explanation.

It’s hard to win an argument when the court refuses to hear it. Furthermore, as I noted in a post last year, the COA had serious conflicts of interest because it changed the rules after the fact in response to ex parte communications with bar counsel. When I asked the judges to recuse themselves, they likewise denied that request without an explanation.

Of course, if a peon lawyer like me had intentionally destroyed evidence that was covered by Congressional and court subpoenas, he or she would have been disbarred and sent to prison (although not necessarily in that order).  But Mr. Kendall, Ms. Mills, and Ms. Samuelson are covered by the Clinton protection racket, ergo they need not worry about the rules and laws that apply to mere mortals. … Read more