Conroe, February 3 – In the course of The Golden Hammer reporting a 3-part series on how Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright is the most expensive and costly County Attorney in the history of the State of Texas, several people contacted the newspaper about a terrible circumstance which Lambright made a lot worse. While the Courier blog reported parts of the story, the pro-government blog failed to report the conclusion of the story, which is that the State Bar of Texas issued a reprimand of Lambright for violating the State Bar’s rules of professional conduct on February 6, 2014, while Lambright served as the Montgomery County Attorney. That the State Bar issued the reprimand and that the Courier blog failed to report the story both reveal the terrible degree to which the “establishment political elite” protect each other and try to fool the citizens while hiding the overspending and mismanagement from public view.
Here’s what happened. I’m not going to use the family’s name because I want them to have some peace.
A man died while incarcerated in the Montgomery County Jail. His family, primarily his daughter, hired private attorney J.D. Lambright to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against Montgomery County. Lambright took the case on a contingent fee basis, meaning that he would receive a percentage of the recovery. Lambright had some difficulties in the 359th District Court while he represented the family. The district judge, the Honorable Kathleen Hamilton, rendered a summary judgment against the family and in favor of Montgomery County. Lambright agreed to prosecute an appeal of the ruling before the Beaumont Court of Appeals.
The serious problems began in 2010 when Lambright decided he wanted to run for the position of Judge of County Court at Law Number Two of Montgomery County in the Republican Primary Election. Lambright’s opponents were Claudia Laird, who eventually won, Kristin Bays, and Tracy Pullen. Some of Lambright’s opponents questioned how Lambright could not have a conflict of interest in wanting to be a County Court at Law Judge while he was suing the County on behalf of his clients. Two confidential sources inside of Lambright’s office have confirmed that Lambright decided to solve his problem by moving to dismiss the appeal on behalf of the family in the Court of Appeals. The Golden Hammer contacted Lambright by email to ask him to explain the situation and to respond to those allegations both from the family and from the employees inside his own office. Lambright did not respond to the email inquiry. Lambright moved to dismiss the family’s appeal on January 8, 2010. On January 21, 2010, the Beaumont Court of Appeals granted Lambright’s motion to dismiss and dismissed the appeal.
On April 15, 2010, Lambright’s client wrote him the following email:
“Mr. Lambright, you are hereby dismissed as my attorney due to non-consent to file a ‘Motion to Dismiss Appeal’ dated January 8, 2010. The motion to dismiss was granted on January 21, 2010. It was your obligation to confer with me regarding any dismissal. You never contacted me regarding the motion to dismiss nor did you contact me letting me know my case had been dismissed by you.”
On April 24, 2012, the executrix of the dead gentleman’s estate filed a Grievance with the State Bar of Texas against Lambright. She noted in the Grievance filing that, while Lambright failed to contact her or her family about dismissing the lawsuit, he did list her name, without her permission, on his endorsement list as a candidate for judge. One month later, on May 24, 2012, the State Bar determined that the Grievance information made an allegation of “Professional Misconduct or a Disability, or both.” Lambright received 30 days to file a response to the allegations.
In 2012, Lambright ran and won election as the County Attorney of Montgomery County. He took the oath of office on January 1, 2013. On January 9, 2013, the Courier blog reported that the State Bar had considered Lambright’s response, as well as the Grievance filing and had determined that there was “just cause” to proceed with an evidentiary hearing on May 23, 2013, to determine whether Lambright had violated the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar. The pro-government Courier blog chose never to report any part of the story again, as Lambright became a part of the “political establishment” as the County Attorney.
What neither Lambright nor the Courier blog reported was the most significant part of the entire and horrible affair. Lambright faced a very serious situation. The State Bar could have disbarred him, even though he was the elected County Attorney. Additionally, the Bar could have suspended or reprimanded Lambright. Therefore, Lambright negotiated with the Bar desperately to save his professional standing as a licensed attorney in the State of Texas. He agreed to accept a reprimand.
On February 6, 2014, Lambright accepted a reprimand which the State Bar of Texas issued on that day.
Reprimands are very serious, because they denote that an attorney violated his ethical obligations to his clients. Reprimands are also quite unusual. The Golden Hammer spoke to fourteen (14) different well-established practicing attorneys in Conroe and The Woodlands and found only one of them who even knows an attorney who has ever received a reprimand from the State Bar of Texas. The Golden Hammer cannot find any time in Texas history when a sitting County Attorney received a State Bar reprimand.
Lambright’s reprimand, which he accepted, occurred three years ago. Let’s be fair to this man. It doesn’t mean that he’s evil, incompetent, or even mean. It does mean that there was a serious disconnect between Lambright and the ethical obligations of attorneys under the Professional Rules of Conduct in the State of Texas. It also raises the question why Lambright – and the Courier blog – kept this serious matter a secret from the citizens who have every right to know what happened.
The Golden Hammer gave Lambright more than one full day to comment about this story before publishing by raising some questions to him about the affair in writing. Lambright did not respond.