A Houston attorney who has been defending himself in a disciplinary case that alleges he committed barratry must now defend a second disciplinary lawsuit alleging he forged a client’s signature on a settlement document.
Clyde Miller has already denied the allegations in the Commission for Lawyer Discipline’s earlier lawsuit, which alleges he violated barratry-related rules in the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The allegations in that case were nearly identical to allegations the commission lobbed against state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City. Reynolds has also denied the CFLD’s allegations.
Miller didn’t return a call seeking comment. Reynolds referred comment to his attorney, Jeff Wagnon, who didn’t return a call seeking comment.
“We don’t have a comment,” said Claire Mock, a spokeswoman for the State Bar of Texas Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which represents the CFLD.
In a July 2 original disciplinary petition in CFLD v. Miller, filed in Harris County’s 127th District Court, the CFLD alleges that on May 25, 2012, Lisa Gibson hired Miller for a personal injury case and shortly thereafter Miller stopped communicating with and responding to Gibson.
According to the petition, Gibson subsequently hired a new lawyer and then discovered that Miller had settled her case for $3,000 on Feb. 7, 2013.
“Respondent failed to obtain Gibson’s consent to settle the case, and instead, forged Gibson’s signature on the release and indemnity agreement,” alleges the CFLD. Gibson still hasn’t received any money from Miller.
The CFLD alleges Miller violated four rules in the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. It asked the court to discipline Miller, order restitution for Gibson and for the CFLD to collect costs and attorney fees.
The allegations that Miller and Reynolds violated barratry-related disciplinary rules were nearly identical in CFLD v. Miller and CFLD v. Reynolds, filed on March 11 and Feb. 12, respectively, in Harris County District Court.
The CFLD alleged that during 2012 and 2013, Robert Valdez Sr. “engaged in an ongoing effort to solicit personal injury clients on behalf of and at the direction of” Miller and Reynolds. Valdez—”a nonlawyer employed or retained by” Miller and Reynolds—contacted people involved in car accidents and recommended that they hire Miller or Reynolds, according to the petitions. [See "Bar Hits Two Lawyers With Barratry Allegations," Texas Lawyer, March 24, 2014, page 6.]
Miller denied the allegations in an April 21 general denial.
Reynolds also denied the allegations in a March 21 original answer and requests for disclosures. Representing himself at the trial, Reynolds also specifically denied violating the six disciplinary rules the CFLD alleges he had broken. He pleaded the affirmative defenses of collateral and equitable estoppel and selective and malicious prosecution. Reynolds asked the court to dismiss the matter and to recover his costs.
During an interview in March, Reynolds told Texas Lawyer, “I’m looking forward to vigorously defending myself. I’m very confident that this is a very baseless charge and allegations against me, and I feel confident that I will be able to maintain my law license once I have my day in court.”