A grievance committee with the State Bar of Texas ruled this week that former Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood committed professional misconduct about two years ago when he threatened two defense attorneys in a judge’s chambers during a murder trial.
LaHood was placed on probation with the state bar for a year and ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in attorney’s fees and expenses.
One of the attorneys threatened by LaHood was Joe Gonzales, who was motivated by the incident to challenge LaHood. Gonzales defeated him in last year’s Democratic primary and won the November election. Gonzales took office in January.O
Judge Lori Valenzuela had testified in court that she heard LaHood threaten to destroy and shut down the legal practices of Gonzales and another defense attorney, Christian Henricksen, and that she considered it official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.
Senior District Judge W.C. Kirkendall of Seguin later found that LaHood engaged in an unprofessional rant that might be subject to sanction by another tribunal.
Local attorney Mark Stevens filed the complaint against LaHood with the State Bar of Texas.
LaHood, who has returned to private practice since he was ousted from office, has repeatedly denied that he ever made the threats.
But after hearing evidence and arguments, an evidentiary panel found that LaHood, “in the course of representing a client … made an extrajudicial statement” that he should have known “will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicatory proceeding.”
The panel also ruled that LaHood “used means that had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person.”