This week we have a raft of Texas Cases  Here attorney was appointed to represent convict father in a parental rights termination case.  Reading the facts, we believe that the court would have terminated the convict’s rights anyway, but it was really unhappy about the representation.

"In its opinion, the Court of Appeals noted that Wilson did not put on evidence at the hearing; did not consult with Brice; performed only a "perfunctory cross-examination of Denton," which led to the admission of evidence that Brice had been arrested for harassment, stalking, DWI, indecent exposure, and several cases of indecency with a child; did not request a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum; did not interview potential witnesses; did not request a jury; and did not investigate the conviction that was the basis for termination. Id. at 140-42. The Court of Appeals also stated, "[N]othing in the record suggests that [Wilson] requested a continuance from the trial court." Id. at 142"

But, nevertheless, the legal malpractice case foundered.  "Brice subsequently filed suit against Wilson for legal malpractice. Brice alleged that Wilson was negligent or grossly negligent in failing to request a continuance; failing to consult with him to determine the facts and prepare a defense; failing to investigate the conviction that was the basis for termination; failing to challenge the pleadings and to present evidence favorable to him; failing to request a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum; failing to investigate the facts of the case, including the failure to contact Brice’s mother and sister, who Brice asserts would have testified on his behalf; and failing to determine that Brice wanted a jury trial. Brice contended that he "suffered the severe damages of not having the effective assistance of counsel at the final hearing on the suit to terminate his parental rights to his two minor children[,]" as well as "physical injuries and the emotional pain and suffering from losing his parental rights to his two minor children." In supplemental petitions, Brice added MacLean, Boulware, and the law partnership of MacLean & Boulware as defendants under theories of agency; negligent hiring, supervision, or retention; and respondeat superior.

The trial court disposition
Wilson, MacLean, and Boulware filed no-evidence motions for summary judgment, in which they asserted that Brice lacked evidence of a breach of duty owed pursuant to the attorney-client relationship, and that Brice had failed to produce any evidence that the alleged breach of duty proximately caused the alleged harm. Brice filed responses, to which he attached copies of the opinion in which the Court of Appeals held that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, a notice from the Supreme Court stating that it had denied review of the case, and a portion of Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a. Brice also filed motions for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum to enable him to appear at the hearings on the motions for summary judgment filed by Wilson, MacLean, and Boulware. The trial court denied Brice’s motions for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum. The trial court granted the motions for summary judgment and ordered that Brice take nothing from Wilson, MacLean, and Boulware.

No evidence of damages fatal to claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment, finding that Brice had failed to present evidence of damages, which was an essential element of his legal malpractice claim and of each other claim he presented. "

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened…

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.