A Prime Example of What’s Wrong with the Texas Legal Profession

Married to a judge, Bishop was a behind-the-scenes power in deciding who would get on the bench and stay there; in return he was often appointed to lucrative cases by gratefully employed jurists

Legal rats in 2020. They’ve been growing for a long, long time in Texas. Just read the timeline and story of Bishop below. A Saint he ain’t. What’s confusing is that there was zero need for his behavior.

Alas, we reckon the greed and corruption is infested so deep in legal circles that it’s an addiction to these rogue lawyers.

We reckon the judiciary and the legal profession just needs blitzed, a new set of  lawyers AND non-lawyers, with a new set of rules where the lawyers don’t get to judge lawyers is paramount and immunity and life tenure for the federalist yins is for the birds.

Dismantle the Bars and demand all lawyers have professional liability insurance to trade.

Lawyers who are disbarred are disbarred for life.

If you’re holding client funds as a lawyer, then you have to retain the services of a CPA and/or use an escrow service so your firm is not holding the cash.

The small print would need ironed out, but that’s the minimum standard for a start.

 

BISHOP IS BACK

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED; JULY 27, 2006 | LIT REPUBLISHED OCT 7, 2020

EVEN IF YOU DON’T REMEMBER GEORGE M. BISHOP, THE HOUSTON LEGAL COMMUNITY DOES.

Married to a judge, Bishop was a behind-the-scenes power in deciding who would get on the bench and stay there; in return he was often appointed to lucrative cases by gratefully employed jurists.

His South Dakota pheasant hunts and Election Night fajita feasts were regular stops for politically active lawyers seeking favor.

It all came tumbling down in the late ’90s, when the IRS came after Bishop for under-reporting his income. The feds said that Bishop hid $700,000 in fees he’d received and used them to buy a farm near Brenham and the engagement ring he gave to State District Judge Caprice Cosper.

GEORGE M. BISHOP

Bishop denied the charges but was convicted, and despite pleas for leniency from prominent pols like Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (and Cosper), he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

All this was apparently news to Houston businesswoman Linda Coleman. She says in March she was referred to a CPA named Clara Allen and Allen recommended she hire Bishop as an attorney. Coleman subsequently met with Bishop at a lunch; she says he never quite mentioned the disbarment.

The employment contract (for a not-so-kingly retainer of $1,500 plus $1,000 a month) takes care to call Bishop a “legal consultant” and says he “may hire duly licensed attorneys to assist in areas of their expertise.”

That wording may not be enough to cover Bishop, say both Julie Vaughn of the Texas Board of Legal Examiners and retired judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Texas State Bar’s Unauthorized Practice of Law committee. Gilstrap says state law requires a law license to practice law — and “practicing law” is defined, he says, “broadly, as being the rendering of any service that involves Ôspecial skill and knowledge.’ ”

Coleman says she subsequently discovered that despite what she says she was told, Allen wasn’t a CPA and Bishop wasn’t a lawyer. “Both parties misrepresented themselves,” she says. “This misrepresentation has cost our organization over $6,000 in fees, with absolutely no services rendered by either party.”

Bishop insists he told Coleman he wasn’t an attorney, and that legal work would be done by a law firm. He says Coleman might be overreacting to not being able to get ahold of him.

“I think what happened is they were unaware I was out of the country and panicked, I guess, and didn’t call the law firm and I guess called you, I suppose,” he says. “Is that what happened?”

COLEMAN SAYS SHE’S FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE STATE BAR.

And hey, a defendant can always represent himself, so maybe Bishop will finally get to feed that lawyering jones he apparently still has.

LEGAL ADDENDUM

In regards to the Bishop item, it’s clear that the person making the complaints, Linda Coleman of Pennco Mortgage, isn’t exactly the most discerning reader of legally binding paperwork.

We say that because we can’t think of many businesspeople who would actually sign the following agreement, which is between Coleman and alleged CPA Clara Allen, doing business as Hat’s Tax Service.

Here it is:

PENN CO MORTGAGE IS RETAING [sic] CLARA ALLEN WITH HAT’S TAX SERVICE FOR TAX SERVICES, ACCOUNTING SERVICE COMPLETING THE ARTICLES FOR THE LLC TO MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO LOOP HOLES IN PAPERS IN CASE THEIR [sic] COME [sic] A TIME THAT WE NEED TO PROCET [sic] YOU A PERSON NOT AS PENN CO…(You could just [sic] that whole sentence for endangering the English language, but we won’t.)

THE FEE IS $2500.00 TO START AND WILL [sic] WORK THAT DOWN THEN YOU WILL START TO BE BILL [sic] ON A MONTHLY BASIC [sic].

THIS AGREETMENT [sic]…

Geez. We take it all back. Someone needed some legal consulting, even if it was from a disbarred former-kingmaker-convict.

 

Interview with former 339th Criminal District Court judge, Judge Caprice Cosper

Editor’s Note: During her 15 years of presiding over the 339th Criminal District Court in Houston, Judge Caprice Cosper was a strong advocate of community supervision programs in Texas.

She served on the Judicial Advisory Council to TDCJ’s Community Assistance Division for five years and also presided over one of four drug courts for probationers in Harris County.

To get a judicial perspective on the state of the community supervision system in Texas, Connections sat down with the University of Houston Law School graduate and former Harris County assistant district attorney before she left the bench in January.

Judge Caprice Cosper at her desk

Judge Caprice Cosper has presided over the 339th District Criminal Court in Houston for 15 years and serves on the Judicial Advisory Council to TDCJ’s Criminal Justice Assistance Division.
Photo by David Nunnelee

Q. Are you excited about the Legislature’s investment in community supervision programs in recent years?

A. I’m excited that the Legislature has recognized that we have some big problems in the criminal justice arena and that they realize that they’ve got to fund those adequately if we’re going to make a difference. The big challenge is helping the Legislature to understand that we’re turning a battleship, and you can’t turn a battleship that fast. They’ve got to give us time to show the impact the money is making at this level.

Q. Are we already seeing an impact?

A. Yeah, we’re seeing one. But I’m one of those who believes that you can have a great idea, but if people aren’t ready for it and if the time isn’t right, it’s not going to happen. In many respects, you have to have your public policy, your public opinion, and your resources come together. The moon and the stars have to be aligned. And that’s sort of what’s happening now with community supervision.

Q. IS THAT AN INDICATION THAT COMMUNITY SUPERVISION IS COMING OF AGE IN TEXAS?

A. Unfortunately, you’re talking to someone who’s been in the criminal justice system long enough to see that trends come and trends go. I think there are a number of factors that are contributing to why we’re looking at community supervision again. The number one thing that is driving the train, at least in Harris County, and I suspect the state, is drug use and drug offenders. I really see that as changing the whole landscape of criminal justice in the last 15 years. All of our statistics here show that that’s a significant part of our everyday docket and that it’s a significant contributor to crime. And I think maybe the public caught on even before the rest of us did that just locking someone up who has a substance abuse issue isn’t going to solve that problem.

Q. AS A JUDGE, DID YOU DO EVERYTHING YOU COULD TO KEEP SOMEONE FROM GOING TO THE PENITENTIARY? WAS THAT A LAST RESORT FOR YOU?

A. Yes, there’s sort of a rule of thumb that a judge can always send someone to the penitentiary. But it’s not quite that simple… the dynamics are not that simple. Essentially, there are people I gave opportunities to that didn’t appreciate it and didn’t work hard at it. And I told every one of my probationers: “You work hard at this and I’ll work with you. But if you walk away from this, then you don’t leave me with many options.” There are people that I wasn’t going to pour a lot of resources into if they weren’t going to do their part.

Q. HOW WOULD YOU ADVISE STATE LEADERS TODAY AS THEY LOOK TO STRENGTHEN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN THE FUTURE?

A. Well, we’re not going to stop people from getting in the criminal justice system. We can start with that premise. I’ve been here 15 years and the influx of people into the criminal justice system isn’t going down. Then the question becomes, what do we do with them? And there are basically only two options. One is we can lock them up and the other is we place them on community supervision. It makes no sense to me to put someone on community supervision if we’re not going to have the tools that we need to ensure success.

 

BISHOP AND HIS UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW

“…the trial court admitted into evidence a photograph of a sign posted at the front of Bishop’s farm which was taken on July 14, 2014—during the time Bishop was disbarred from the practice of law. The sign states: “Board Certified Attorney George Bishop.” The sign also includes a picture of the scales of justice, Bishop’s telephone number, and a “By Appointment” notation.”

Bishop v. Comm’n for Lawyer Discipline, No. 01-18-01115-CV, at *51 (Tex. App. Aug. 25, 2020)

CAUSE NO. 36282

COMMISSION FOR LAWYER DISCIPLINE

V.

GEORGE M. BISHOP, III

201607074

  • IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF
  • WASHINGTON COUNTY, TEXAS
  • 21st JUDICIAL DISTRICT

MODIFIED JUDGMENT OF PARTIALLY PROBATED SUSPENSION

Parties and Appearance

On April 16, 17, and 18, 2018, the above-entitled and numbered case was called by the Court with the Honorable Brenda Kennedy presiding pursuant to her appointment by the Supreme Court of Texas as set forth in Rule 3.02 of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.

Petitioner, the Commission for Lawyer Discipline (“Petitioner”), appeared through counsel, Judith Gres DeBerry and Amanda Kates, and announced ready.

Respondent, George M. Bishop, III (“Respondent”), Texas Bar Number 02353000, appeared in person and announced ready.

Jurisdiction  and Venue

The Court finds that it has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this action and that venue is proper in Washington County, Texas.

Professional Misconduct

The case proceeded to trial before a jury of twelve (12) duly qualified and selected jurors. After due deliberation, on April 18, 2018, the jury returned a verdict. Based on the jury’s verdict, the Court finds that the acts, omissions, and conduct of Respondent, George M. Bishop, III, constitutes violation of Rule 1.01(b)(1), of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. As to such violation, the Court finds that Respondent, George M. Bishop, III, has committed professional misconduct as defined in Rule 1.06(V) of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.

The Charge of the Court and the verdict of the jury are incorporated in this Judgment by reference for all purposes as if fully set forth at length and attached hereto as Exhibit “A”.

Judgment of Suspension

The Court finds that the appropriate discipline is a suspension from the practice of law in the State of Texas for a period of two (2) years, with twelve (12) months of said suspension to be an active suspension, and twelve (12) months of said suspension to be probated, upon the terms and conditions set forth below.

ACCORDINGLY, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years, beginning May 1, 2018, and ending April 30, 2020. Respondent shall be actively suspended from the practice of law for a period of twelve (12) months beginning May 1, 2018, and ending April 30, 2019. If Respondent complies with all of the following terms and conditions timely, the twelve month period of probated suspension shall begin on May 1, 2019, and shall end on April 30, 2020.

Terms and Conditions

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that during the term of active suspension herein ordered, Respondent, George M. Bishop, III, shall be prohibited from practicing law in Texas, holding himself out as an attorney at law, performing any legal services for others, accepting any fee directly or indirectly for legal services, appearing as counsel or in any representative capacity in any proceeding in any Texas or Federal court or before any administrative body, or holding himself out to others or using his name, in any manner, in conjunction with the words “attorney at law,” “attorney,” “counselor at law,” or “lawyer.” This includes the prohibition against Respondent advertising in any form, including but not limited to the internet, as an “attorney,” “attorney at law,” “counselor at law,” or “lawyer.”

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that Respondent, George M. Bishop, Ill, on or before May 1, 2018, shall notify each of his current clients and opposing counsel in writing of this suspension. In addition to such notification, Respondent is ORDERED to return any files, papers, unearned money, and other property belonging to clients in the Respondent’s possession to the respective clients or to another attorney at the client’s request. Respondent is ORDERED to file with the Statewide Compliance Monitor, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas 78711 (1414 Colorado St., Austin, Texas 78701), on or before May 1, 2018, an affidavit stating that all current clients and opposing counsel have been notified of the Respondent’s suspension and that all files, papers, money and other property belonging to all clients have been returned as ordered herein.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Respondent shall, on or before May 1, 2018, notify in writing each and every justice of the peace,judge, magistrate, and chief justice of each and every court in which Respondent has any matter pending of the terms of this Judgment, the style and cause number of the pending matter(s), and the name(s), address(es) and telephone number(s) of the client(s) Respondent is representing in Court. Respondent is ORDERED to file with the Statewide Compliance Monitor, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas 78711 (1414 Colorado St., Austin, Texas 78701), on or before May 1, 2018, an affidavit stating that he has notified in writing each and every justice of the peace, judge, magistrate, and chief justice of each and every court in which Respondent has any matter(s) pending of the terms of this Judgment, the style and cause number(s) of the pending matter(s), and the name(s), address(es) and telephone number(s) of the client(s) Respondent is representing in Court.

IT IS FURTHER  ORDERED,  ADJUDGED,  AND DECREED that Respondent, George M. Bishop, III, shall, on or before May 1, 2018, surrender his Texas law license and permanent State Bar Card to the Statewide Compliance Monitor, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas 78711, for transmittal to the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas.

In the event Respondent’s  law license or State Bar Card cannot  be located,  Respondent, George M. Bishop, Ill, shall, on or before May 1, 2018, file an affidavit with the Statewide Compliance Monitor, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas 78711, stating that his law license and/or State Bar Card cannot be located.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that as an additional sanction arising from Respondent’s professional misconduct, the State Bar of Texas shall have judgment against Respondent for reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees and expenses of litigation in the amount of $10,000 (ten thousand dollars and 0/100). Payment shall be made by certified or cashier’s check or money order made payable to the State Bar of Texas and delivered, on or before April 30, 2019, to the Statewide Compliance Monitor, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office, P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas 78711-2487 (1414 Colorado St., Austin, Texas 78701).

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that all amounts ordered herein are due to the misconduct of Respondent, and are assessed as a part of the sanction in accordance with Rule l .06(W) of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Any amount not paid shall accrue interest at the maximum legal rate per annum until paid, and the State Bar of Texas shall have all writs and other post-judgment remedies against Respondent in order to collect all unpaid amounts.

Should Respondent fail to comply with all of the above terms and conditions timely, Respondent shall remain actively suspended until the date of compliance or until April 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that during all periods of suspension, active or probated, Respondent shall be under the following terms and conditions:

1. Respondent shall not violate any term of this

2. Respondent shall not be found guilty of, or plead “no contest” to, any intentional or serious crime, barratry, or any crime involving moral turpitude or any misdemeanor or felony involving theft, embezzlement, or fraudulent misappropriation of money of property, nor violate the laws of the United States or any other State other than minor traffic

3. Respondent shall not violate any of the provisions of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional

4. Respondent will maintain a current status regarding occupation tax and membership fees in accordance with Article III of the State Bar

5. Respondent shall    comply    with   Minimum    Continuing   Legal    Education   (MCLE) requirements in accordance with Article III of the State Bar

6. Respondent shall comply with Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) requirements in accordance with Article III of the State Bar

7. Respondent shall keep the State Bar of Texas Membership Department and the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel notified of his current business and home addresses, and telephone numbers, and shall send notice, within ten (10) days of any change in address or telephone

8. Respondent shall promptly respond to any request for information from the Chief Disciplinary Counsel in connection with any investigation of any allegations of professional

9. Respondent shall cooperate fully with the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office of the State Bar of Texas in its efforts to monitor compliance with the terms and conditions of this Judgment.

Motion  to Revoke Probation

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that if evidence arises that Respondent has committed professional misconduct or has violated any term of this judgment, the State Bar of Texas may, in addition to all other remedies available, file a motion to revoke probation with the District Court in the County of Respondent’s residence or place of practice and serve a photocopy of the Motion on Respondent pursuant to Tex.R.Civ.P. 21a.

The Court shall, without the aid of a jury and within thirty (30) days of service of the motion upon Respondent, conduct an evidentiary hearing. At the hearing, the Court shall determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether Respondent has violated any term or condition of probation of this Judgment. If the Court finds that Respondent has committed acts of professional misconduct during the period of probated suspension or violated any term of this probation or this Judgment, the Court shall enter an Order revoking probation and placing Respondent on active suspension from the date of such revocation order. Upon revocation, Respondent shall be actively suspended for the full four-year term of suspension and shall not be given credit for any term of probation served prior to the revocation. An order revoking probation may not be superseded or stayed.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that any conduct on the part of Respondent which serves as the basis for a motion to revoke probation may also be brought as independent grounds for discipline as allowed under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure and/or the State Bar Rules.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this suspension shall be made a matter of public record and shall be published in the Texas Bar Journal.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of this court shall forward a certified copy of Petitioner’s Second Amended Disciplinary Petition on file herein, along with a certified copy of this judgment, to the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Texas, Supreme Court Building, P.0. Box 12248, Austin, Texas 78711, and to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas 78711.

All requested relief not expressly granted herein is expressly denied.

Heading to Paris and then Lisbon for Thanksgiving on this Airbus A310 to try the excuisite Portuguese cuisine!
I am sponsoring an unofficial Porsche tour of the back roads of Austin and Fayette counties, next Saturday, July 26th at 8:30 A.M. There will be no charges, few rules, but many paved roads with curves and hills to excite the experienced driver and a lunch stop at a French Bistro in Flatonia, believe it or not ! We will meet at the Buc-ee’s on U.S. 290 at F.M. 362 at 8:30 A. M. Please contact me at george_bishop@sbcglobal if interested.

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