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Judged

The Judge has grown weary of sulking in the shadows and letting the MeJDs and Chinaskis of Judged hog the limelight. Here you will find news about Judged, updates to our law firm rankings and the Judge’s daily ramblings. Want the real scoop? Check it out here.

Gender: Female
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A criminal complaint was recently filed with the Travis County district attorney’s office by Houston lawyer David Rushing. Rushing claims that prosecutor Michael McCrum is abusing his rights in the Governor Rick Perry case, according to The Houston Chronicle.

The complaint alleges that McCrum is over-charging taxpayers for his services. The county is being billed $300 per hour by McCrum, which is three times more than the highest rate set by state law.

The law in Travis County allow for a lawyer in McCrum’s situation to charge more or less per hour if the situation is unusual.

“These attempts of character assassinations against our great governor here is bad enough on its own, but when you really analyze it, it’s not just a political game but lining the defense’s pockets at the taxpayers’ expense,” Rushing said in an interview with The Houston Chronicle.

The district attorney’s office did not issue a comment, but did confirm that it received the complaint.

The complaint filed by Rushing stems from the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and Travis County’s guidelines for the Fair Defense Act. Attorneys who are appointed to cases can be paid between $70 and $100 per hour for time in court and between $60 and $90 per hour for time worked outside of the courthouse.

Perry was indicted in August by a grand jury in Travis County on charges of abuse of the governor’s official capacity and that he coerced a public servant. The claims come from threats by Perry to veto funding for Texas’ Public Integrity Unit if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not resign following an arrest for drunk-driving.

As of early this past week, invoices totaling close to $100,000 were sent by McCrum to Travis County. McCrum volunteered to work with a co-counsel in an effort to not be a burden on the county economically while also taking a pay cut.

Rushing claims that McCrum has taken advantage of his position in an effort to steal money from taxpayers.

“McCrum was tasked by a district court to investigate the highest-ranking state official in Texas, and to prosecute, as necessary and if warranted,” Rushing wrote in the complaint. “It is imperative that, with such a task, McCrum himself follow the law — to the letter. He failed.”

Rushing has said that McCrum is breaking the same law that he has accused Governor Perry of breaking. He has also said that McCrum has taken advantage of his official position as the prosecutor to benefit himself.


09-28-2014


John Nonna, the former Mayor of Pleasantville, New York, has been named as the co-chair of the board of directors and trustees of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, according to the Pleasantville Daily Voice.

There are more than 200 members on the board, all of whom will be led by Nonna and Donald J. Rosenberg. Rosenberg is the executive vice president, general counsel and corporate security for Qualcomm, Inc.

“Mr. Nonna brings a wealth of experience to our board,” said Barbara Arnwine, Lawyers’ Committee president and executive director. “His commitment to equality and justice, paired with his leadership skills and invaluable perspectives, will be instrumental in our future work and growth. Since joining the Lawyers’ Committee’s board in 2007 he has been actively involved and dedicated to the advancement of our critical mission.”

Nonna has argued cases on the behalf of the Lawyers’ Committee in the past. He is a fighter for racial justice and civil rights.

Nonna is also the co-manager for the New York office of Squire Patton Boggs. Nonna is a fellow with the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is also on the board of directors for Westchester Community College and the AIDA Reinsurance and Insurance Arbitration Society.

“The Lawyers’ Committee’s is an incredible organization,” Nonna said. “ I am honored to serve alongside Don Rosenberg as co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee in fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 request to marshal the private bar's leadership and pro bono resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity -- work that continues to be vital today.”

Nonna earned his law degree from New York University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Nonna also belongs to multiple legal bar associations. He has been the recipient of multiple accolades from industry publications and other organizations throughout his career.


09-21-2014


Two lawyers in Houston, Texas are facing felony charges related to a reported mortgage fraud, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Brian Storts is an attorney and a firefighter in the city. He faces up to life in prison after being indicted on a first-degree felony charge of giving false statements to obtain credit.

Storts used false financial documents to purchase a house at $400,000 for another attorney who was under investigation in a separate case, according to Assistant Harris County District Attorney Lester Blizzard.

"The DA's office takes very seriously lawyers who have fallen in their duties and responsibilities to their clients," Blizzard said. "We're hopeful that a message will be sent to other lawyers about how they handle the funds of the people they represent."

The second attorney, Ricardo Baca, was indicted in the same case as Storts. Baca was accused of bilking a criminal defense lawyer out of $210,000 in exchange for part ownership of five cell phone stores.

Following plea negotiations Tuesday, Blizzard said that the deal never occurred.

“It was a scam.”

Baca was expected to agree to a plea bargain late in the week, according to attorney Chip Lewis. Lewis said Baca is negotiating how much restitution to pay and what is going to happen to his client’s law license.

"We hope to have this finalized with the result that he pleads no-contest to both charges," Lewis said. "I believe there is a balance of about $42,000 that needs to be taken care of."

Baca has been charged with providing false statements to obtain credit and charged with a third-degree felony of misapplication of fiduciary property. Baca is expected to plead guilty in front of state District Judge Jeanine Barr. Barr will decide the punishment levied on Baca.

The attorney for Storts, Dee McWilliams, said the following:

"Brian is an excellent firefighter and an important member of the community. His primary avocation and his true love is being a firefighter and what happens in this case could affect his future doing that."

Storts spent time as a member of the board of directors for the Houston Professional Firefighter Union from 1998 to 2003. Storts is being reassigned by the Houston Fire Department into an administrative position pending the result of the investigation.

08-31-2014


The North Carolina General Assembly passed a new bill on Wednesday that bans the state’s Division of Employment Security from selling law firms confidential hearing notices for unemployment benefit appeals, according to The Winston-Salem Journal.

The bill has yet to be signed by Governor Pat McCrory, but he is expected to sign it this coming week. The major question is whether or not the bill will stick. A Wake County Superior Court ruling in the coming week could change the outcome of the bill. The court is waiting to rule on a lawsuit that was filed by a law firm that claims banning access to notices would harm its business.

The assistant secretary for Employment Security, Dale Folwell, said that the bill stems from a security issue at the division from February. Couriers for the law firms were picking up the packets and going to the loading dock of the building and not to security.

The solution proposed by Folwell was to offer the packets to all law firms for $600 per month and sending them out three times per month.

Employment Security received a cease-and-desist letter from U.S. Labor officials in March, claiming that the notices given to law firms are a direct violation of federal privacy laws.

“The passage of this law ensures that we remain in compliance with federal labor regulations,” Folwell said. “Our agency always tries to respect authority, and we thank the General Assembly for removing this agency from a legal rock and a hard place. The passage of this bill ensures us that going forward, we are able to fully protect our employers’ and claimants’ confidential information.”

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, said, “It is egregious that an attorney can get information before the affected claimant or employer, and that they are able to make money off someone's unfortunate situation.”

08-26-2014



Donald Mansfield, 71, has been charged with first-degree theft and has had his law license suspended after reportedly stealing the settlement check of a client, according to The News Tribune.

The check was for $21,000 and no arraignment has been scheduled yet for Mansfield. Investigators do not know his whereabouts right now. According to court records, Mansfield closed his law office and his home was foreclosed on in March.

A complaint was filed with the Washington State Bar Association by one of his clients. Tacoma police were also alerted to the theft after the client tried to claim the money from him. The money was awarded in a personal injury case.

The check was deposited into the checking accounting of Mansfield on September 12, 2011 and the attorney promised to send a check to the client within 10 days. The check never arrived.

Emails were sent to his office five times and a certified letter was also sent demanding the money. The client was due to receive $14,000 and $7,000 was to go to Mansfield for his work.

An audit was conducted by the state’s bar association and it found that Mansfield received the check, but did not pay the client. The audit also found that Mansfield moved thousands of dollars from his business account to his private account.

According to the audit, Mansfield “either used or converted the victim’s settlement funds for his own use.”

Mansfield claimed he suffered from “serious and ongoing” health issues, but did not send the auditor medical records. This was his reason for not sending the money to the client.



08-14-2014


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