Business of Law

Two Texas lawyers face felony barratry case, possibly the first in their county

Two Texas lawyers have been indicted in a criminal barratry case, which may be the first ever prosecuted in Bexar County according to the district attorney’s office.

Paul David Andrews, 57, turned himself in Monday and was released on $15,000 bond. Keith Gould, 52, as of Tuesday, had not yet been booked. Both practice at the Gould Law Firm in Corpus Christi, according to KSAT and KZTV.

The indictment alleges that the two lawyers paid two individuals and tried to pay a third to solicit clients in 2011. The charges stem from allegations made by a former employee in a 2011 civil lawsuit, which is still ongoing, says attorney Demetrio Duarte. He is defending both Gould and Andrews, reports KSAT.

Duarte described the plaintiff as a disgrunted employee, and said his clients “never paid anyone to illegally solicit any case, never paid anyone to do anything illegal.”

Gould called the criminal case “ridiculous” but declined to comment in detail when contacted by KZTV.

Another Corpus Christi lawyer, Eugene X. Mercier, was disbarred last month after being convicted of barratry in Hidalgo County in 2002 following a jury trial. He argued that attorney disciplinary authorities lacked the power to disbar him because he was, essentially, sentenced only to probation. But the Board of Disciplinary Appeals disagreed in a 2006 opinion (PDF) and suspended Mercier pending an appeal of his criminal conviction.

Mercier is appealing his disbarment, a Board of Disciplinary Appeals Web page notes.

Another former Corpus Christi lawyer, Benito Garza, gave up his law license in 2012 as part of a plea deal in a barratry case prosecuted in Jim Wells County. Alice 24-7 has more on Garza’s case.

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