Legal Ethics

Attorney Loses License, Gets 10-Year Probation in Barratry Case; Runner Gets 3 Years in Slammer


Corrected: A Texas attorney has lost his license to practice law as part of a plea deal in a barratry case.

The attorney, Benito Garza of Corpus Christi, also was sentenced to 10 years of probation and a $6,000 fine following his no-contest plea on May 17 to the third-degree felony count, reports the Southeast Texas Record.

Garza, who was accused of working with another man to solicit a potential personal injury client in violation of the state’s barratry law, also agreed to testify against the alleged “runner” in the case, Timothy “Sugar Bear” Trevino. Trevino was found guilty of a felony barratry charge on May 22 and sentenced to three years in prison.

“Soliciting a legal client in a personal injury case immediately after a devastating accident is a crime in the State of Texas,” said Attorney General Greg Abbott in a written statement provided to the legal publication.

“It is also against the law for lawyers to secure a client’s case by paying off their relatives. But that didn’t stop the defendants in this case from making an uninvited 1:00 a.m. appearance at the home of a devastated mother–just hours after her son was killed in a tragic accident–so that they could illegally pitch their personal injury practice to the mourning family.”

A revised barratry law went into effect in Texas last year, increasing both the scope of prohibited client solicitation and penalties for violating the law.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “‘Personally and Politically Ambushed’ Lawmaker Denies Barratry Charge, Promises Vigorous Defense”

ABAJournal.com: “Courthouse Regular and Texas Lawyer Are Charged with Barratry”

Updated on May 30 to correct the crime commited by Trevino to felony barratry.


Correction

Updated on May 30 to correct the crime commited by Trevino to felony barratry.


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