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Celis Charged Mauricio Celis, the majority partner in Corpus Christi’s CGT Law Group International, who was indicted on Nov. 16 on 10 criminal charges, appeared in court on Nov. 19 and posted bail. A grand jury in Nueces County returned four indictments against Celis on Nov. 16, including seven counts of falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer, one count of aggravated perjury, one count of impersonating a public servant and one count of theft. Celis did not return a telephone call seeking comment before presstime on Nov. 21. Neither did his attorney, J.A. “Tony” Canales, a shareholder in Canales & Simonson in Corpus Christi. Nueces County District Attorney Carlos Valdez asked for a $1 million bond, but 105th District Judge Manuel Banales set it at $50,000. All of the charges against Celis are third-degree felonies, except the theft charge, which is a state jail felony. In Texas v. Celis, one indictment alleges Celis held himself out as a lawyer on or about Nov. 1, 2005, by stating on business letterhead, a business card, a business fax cover sheet and a business Web page that he was licensed in Mexico “and the defendant was not then and there licensed to practice law in this state, another state, or a foreign country and was not then and there in good standing with the State Bar of Texas and the state bar or licensing authority of any state or foreign country where the defendant was licensed to practice law.” That indictment also alleges Celis falsely held himself out as a lawyer when he signed a legal document in a place designated for an attorney’s signature and by telling an individual that he was licensed to practice law when he’s not licensed in Texas, elsewhere in the United States or in another country. A second indictment alleges Celis committed aggravated perjury on May 30 by making a false statement under oath when he testified at a hearing that he graduated from the Universidad Regionmontana in Monterrey, Mexico, when he never graduated from the school. A third indictment alleges Celis impersonated a public servant � specifically a reserve deputy sheriff � on or about Sept. 15 with the intent to induce a Corpus Christi police officer to “submit to his pretended official authority” by displaying a badge. The theft charge in the fourth indictment alleges Celis unlawfully appropriated between $1,500 and $20,000 from a former client without her consent. Celis’ credentials came into question in September, when Corpus Christi plaintiffs lawyer Thomas J. Henry purchased television commercials on four Corpus Christi television stations. In those commercials, Henry, of Law Offices of Thomas J. Henry, alleges Celis is not licensed as a lawyer in Texas or anywhere in the world, and Henry asks CGT clients to contact him. Celis has other legal troubles besides the criminal charges. On Oct. 24, the AG’s office filed a suit against Celis and CGT alleging Celis engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and CGT permitted “non-lawyer” Celis to share in legal fees and referral fees paid to the firm. The defendants deny the allegations. Jerry Strickland, communications director for the Texas Office of the Attorney General, said in a statement on Nov. 16 that, with the indictments of Celis, the grand jury took a “meaningful step toward protecting the integrity of the legal system” and investigators with the AG’s office will continue to assist Valdez with the prosecution. “We will also continue pursuing our civil enforcement action as we seek to prevent Celis or CGT Law Group from violating Texas law,” he wrote. A Legal Life on Film With the smell of popcorn wafting through the auditorium in Fulbright Tower, the family of the late Leon Jaworski attended a Nov. 19 advance screening of a new PBS documentary about the famed Houston lawyer who was a partner in Fulbright & Jaworski. The documentary � “Uncommon Law: The Life of Leon Jaworski” � premiered at 8 p.m. on Nov. 21 on Houston PBS Channel 8. The Texas Foundation for the Arts produced the movie, which traces Jaworski’s career as a lawyer. The movie is “very well done,” Jaworski’s daughter Joanie Jaworski Moncrief said after the screening. “It emphasizes what’s important. I don’t think dad did much of anything that wasn’t about honesty, truthfulness and what he considered the rule of law.” There’s a lot to highlight in the career of Jaworski, who was licensed as a lawyer in 1924 at age 19 � the youngest person ever to get a Texas law license. After World War II, he became chief of the war crimes trial section of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, a job that led to his role as a prosecutor of Nazis. He also did work for fellow Texan Lyndon B. Johnson. In the early 1960s, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy appointed Jaworski to prosecute Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett for failing to follow court orders to admit an African-American veteran, James Meredith, into the University of Mississippi. But Jaworski is perhaps most widely known as the Watergate special prosecutor. After that appointment in 1973, Jaworski successfully subpoenaed the White House for tapes and documents, including the tapes that implicated President Richard Nixon in a cover up of the Watergate break-in. Jaworski died in 1982, but the documentary includes several film clips of him.

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