A party in a complicated divorce proceeding has filed a lawsuit claiming his former counsel promised him a favorable outcome because of a “special relationship” with the presiding judge. The attorney and law firm named in the suit vehemently deny that any member of the firm made such a declaration at any time. The divorce involved significant property division issues, according to an attorney for the firm named in the suit. See the full article at Texas Lawyer (shout out to John Council who wrote the article).
Bascially, what happened according to the lawsuit (according to the client) — the lawyer told the client that he had a special relationship with the Judge and therefore could affect the outcome of the case. There was also a receiver appointed to sell a marital asset, and (again, according to the client), the lawyer said he had a relationship with the receiver and could obtain a favorable outcome from the receiver. Then, all went badly for the client. The receiver didn’t do what the client wanted and somehow the Judge gave some informal opinion negative to the client, so the client agreed to an outcome that he didn’t want. So, the client blames the lawyer and files a lawsuit.
First, and very obviously, this is a one sided story. The ethical rules require that lawyers cannot imply they have a special relationship with anyone in a manner that would influence the outcome of the case. Further, a lawyer cannot guarantee a client a favorable or certain oucome. IF the lawyer did either of those things, then the lawyer could be in big trouble. But, again, that’s a pretty big IF. I’d think that the client who filed the lawsuit is going to have to have some corroborating proof of his allegations, beyond just his word that the lawyer made those statements.
This is Dallas divorce law drama unfolding. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.