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Lawyer Accused of Striking Court Deputy Who Objected to Knife

Posted Jan 12, 2010 12:11 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: A Texas lawyer has been charged with assaulting a public servant—a courthouse deputy who says he told her she couldn’t bring a tool that included a knife past the security checkpoint.

The lawyer, Leander solo practitioner Carolyn Machalec Barnes, 53, was accused of striking the Travis County deputy after he told her she couldn’t bring a multipurpose tool that included a knife into the courthouse, the Austin American-Statesman's Austin Legal blog reports.

The blog quotes an affidavit that stated: “When restrained defendant began to scream like an animal and threaten affiant as well and use profanity,” the affidavit says. “Defendant threatened to end affiant’s career using statements such as, ‘This is the last arrest you will ever make you fat [expletive].’ ”

Reached by telephone, Barnes told the ABA Journal that the report of her conflict with the courthouse deputy is untrue and defamatory. “All of this is a big fat lie,” she said. The officer who stopped her is not the officer who submitted the affidavit, she said. (Austin Legal initially reported that the affidavit was written by an officer identified as security coordinator G. Alvarez; a later correction indicates that while Alvarez stopped Barnes, another officer wrote the affidavit.) She did not have a knife, did not scream like an animal, and did not use profanity, she said.

“Watch the video, he assaulted me. I’m the one who ended up in the hospital," Barnes said. "He attacked me from behind. I’m trying to call 911 when he knocked the phone out of my hand.”

Barnes later told Austin Legal that the multipurpose tool was “an eyeglass repair tool my son gave me for Christmas” that did not have a blade.

In a different case, Barnes was sentenced to community supervision after she was found guilty of interfering with a peace officer during a 2002 traffic stop. According to an opinion by the Texas Court of Appeals, Barnes was originally accused of refusing to roll down her window or step out of her car when an officer issued a traffic citation. Prosecutors later amended the criminal information to accuse Barnes of trying to drive her vehicle forward during the traffic stop.

In a 2007 opinion, the Texas Court of Appeals said the substitution did not violate the Constitution and affirmed the conviction.

Barnes told the ABA Journal that allegations in that case are "another lie."

“All of this stuff is on videotape,” she said. “Y’all believe a lying cop every time.”

Asked whether she reported her earlier conviction to the bar, Barnes replied, “I’ll see you in court.”

On her website, Barnes calls herself a "missionary lawyer" who takes on difficult cases that are shunned by law firms, or that involve "the less fortunate in our society." Her aim, the site says, is to accomplish the ends of justice.

Updated Jan. 15 to reflect a correction to Austin Legal's coverage as well as subsequent coverage from the blog.

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