Thursday, July 5, 2012
Many of us haven’t heard that word since our Legal Ethics course in law school. But in Texas at least, the offense of barratry is gaining more attention. Texas has amended its statutes to permit clients to void all fee agreements procured as the result of barratry. It has also created new causes of action and civil liability for prohibited barratry.
So what exactly is barratry? We can explain with a recent example. From the website of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania:
A Texas attorney has surrendered his law license in a plea bargain arising out of criminal charges for the crime of barratry. Benito Garza of Corpus Christi also agreed to pay a fine of $6,000 and serve ten years of probation under a tough new Texas statute that provides criminal and civil penalties for barratry. According to documents filed in the case, Garza and his case runner Timothy "Sugar Bear" Trevino unlawfully solicited legal employment from the family members of a man who was killed in an auto accident, by calling on the man’s mother to pitch their legal services at 1:00 am the night he died.
See also Paul Neuman visiting a funeral home in “The Verdict” (at 2:50 minutes in this movie clip).
You can learn more about barratry, as well as champerty and maintenance, here.