Wednesday, September 10, 2014

During the campaign I made note of this problem.  I held for a couple of months to see if Alex Dominguez would comply with the rules of ethics for lawyers serving as county commissioners.  I thought about holding this story until after the county answered my open records request, but decided that since Dan and Alex have already been notified about my request it would not make a difference.
The Texas Ethics Commission  dealt with the issue square on in TEC Opinion 530, with a modification or clarification in TEC Opinion 540.
The rule is not complex, as county commissioners and lawyers they must have all of their clients sign waivers of conflict of interest before they can represent them in a Cameron county courts.  They then must present them to commissioners court and in each case commissioners court or at least someone within the county [has to be commissioners court] must also consent.  This means for each new client, before they can proceed in representing them the procedure must be followed.
Any attorney who is opposing counsel is free to file a motion to show authority, and if Dan or Alex fail to present the waiver by the client and consent by the county, they may not represent the client in Cameron county courts.

 "Attorney who is a county commissioner would violate Rule 1.06(b)(2) by representing a private client in any justice, statutory county, or district courts in that county in the absence of effective consent by all affected or potentially affected clients as required by Rule 1.06(c). This conflict of interest also applies to all attorneys associated with the Attorney’s law firm."

Texas Ethics Opinion 540 added another step - the county must also consent to the representation.  Along these lines, for each and every client Commissioners Sanchez and Dominguez represent in a Cameron county court, I am asking for a copy of the consent to same as provided for by Cameron county


 "It is a conflict of interest under Rule 1.06(b)(2) for a lawyer who is a county judge to represent a private client in any justice of the peace, statutory county courts, and district courts in that county. Under Rule 1.06(f) this conflict of interest also extends to all lawyers associated with the private law firm in which the county judge practices. The county judge and lawyers associated with his law firm can accept or continue such representation only upon compliance with the requirements of Rule 1.06(c), which includes the consent of the private client and the county to the representation after full disclosure of the existence, nature, implications, and possible adverse consequences of the conflict of interest."

Now lets see if the county pulls a stupid move and objects that knowledge of their clients is confidential.  Anyone can run any lawyer's name on the public computers and see a list of all of their clients - hence not confidential.


Anonymous said...

Good point Bobby, but the real conflict of interest is when both Dominguez and Sanchez vote on items pertaining to the budget, when it involves the courts. I do not have to tell you that this is where they do business, and it puts them in a quandary of giving the courts what they want, so they can be treated favorably when they go before a judge. Especially Mr. Sanchez, whose brother is a sitting judge.

BobbyWC said...

That is the point of TEC Opinions 530 and 540.

Here is another problem - Sofie Benavides gets to vote to protect her daughter as a JP. The position is a complete waste of taxpayer money - it is not needed - but Sofie voted to raise your taxes so her daughter can have a job at the expense of the taxpayers.

So who gets to vote on whether or not Dan NA Alex can practice in Cameron County courts - Sofie. You think she will vote no without fear Dan and Alex voting to defund Mary Esther's new court before she even takes her seat on the court.

It is all corruption - plain and simple

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

The JP 2-3 is a complete waste of taxpayers money. JP 2-1 and 2-2 are handling the case loads just fine right now. From what I am being told there is even more money being spent to satisfy the position because they are having to uproot the existing JP offices and relocate them to the current election offices. Fine..the commissioners court funded it when they thought they needed it. Now they need to step up to the plate and do the right thing and remove the position before January 1, 2015.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes words that are said in this comments give people away....We know who you are............and i quote Jp 2-1 & 2-2 Doing all the work.... yeah right....pinches viejas de la calle.....

BobbyWC said...

County records show both JP 2-1 ands 2-2 are very part time, so why do we need another? that's right Sofie needs a large welfare check for Mary Esther her daughter.

County employees go without while Sofie Benavides uses more than $100,000 to provide her daughter a job

yes a bogus comment which ignores facts is easily identified
Bobby WC