As in New York, a criminal defendant may not successfully sue his criminal defense attorney absent a showing of "actual innocence"
Here is the Texas rule:
"In Butler v. Mason, No. 11-05-00273-CV, 2006 Tex. App. Lexis 10886 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2006), a convicted murderer attempted to bring a legal malpractice action against the attorney who represented him on direct appeal within the state court system and in state and federal habeas proceedings. The court found that the action was barred by Texas’ Peeler doctrine, under which plaintiffs who have been convicted of a criminal offense may negate the sole proximate cause bar to their claim for legal malpractice in connection with that conviction only if they have been exonerated on direct appeal, through post-conviction relief, or otherwise.
In 1998, the jury convicted Butler of murder and aggravated assault. Butler’s retained counsel, Harry Zimmerman, perfected an appeal but passed away before oral argument. Mason argued the appeals. Butler later retained Mason to file applications for both state and federal post-conviction writs of habeas corpus. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the application in 2001. The federal application was dismissed as being time-barred in 2003.
In 2004, Butler filed this suit alleging that Mason was negligent in his handling of the applications for writs of habeas corpus and that Mason breached his contract with Butler. Butler sought a total of $6,000,000 as compensation for lost employment and as punitive damages. The trial court dismissed the case; the court of appeals affirmed:
In Peeler v. Hughes & Luce, 909 S.W.2d 494 (Tex. 1995), the Texas Supreme Court held:
Because of public policy, we side with the majority of courts and hold that plaintiffs who have been convicted of a criminal offense may negate the sole proximate cause bar to their claim for legal malpractice in connection with that conviction only if they have been exonerated on direct appeal, through post-conviction relief, or otherwise. While we agree with the other state courts that public policy prohibits convicts from profiting from their illegal conduct, we also believe that allowing civil recovery for convicts impermissibly shifts responsibility for the crime away from the convict. This opportunity to shift much, if not all, of the punishment assessed against convicts for their criminal acts to their former attorneys, drastically diminishes the consequences of the convicts’ criminal conduct and seriously undermines our system of criminal justice. We therefore hold that, as a matter of law, it is the illegal conduct rather than the negligence of a convict’s counsel that is the cause in fact of any injuries flowing from the conviction, unless the conviction has been overturned (citation omitted). "