The SE Texas Record Sep. 5, 2016, 10:04pm


Imagine if the laws against murder were rarely enforced. We'd see an increase in homicides over time, until the point where the situation became intolerable and the public demanded a crackdown.

In the meantime, criminals would be getting away with murder, literally, and they would no doubt become accustomed to getting away with it, nonchalant about it perhaps, maybe even brazen and boastful.

When the crackdown came, they would almost certainly be put out about it, indignant about being held accountable for something they'd been doing for so long without consequence.

“What? Are you kidding me?” they might ask. “You're arresting me for murder? But I've been murdering people for years and I never got arrested before. Sure, I know it's a crime, but everybody does it and nobody ever gets arrested for it.”

Edinburg attorney R. Kent Livesay might be reacting something like this, now that the Texas State Bar's Commission for Lawyer Discipline has filed a disciplinary petition in Hidalgo County seeking a judgment of professional misconduct against him for allegedly demanding hail storm damages from Allstate on behalf of a client he allegedly did not represent.

According to the petition, Jesus and Solia Esparza were approached at their Pharr home in March of 2015 by a man named Frank, who claimed to have observed hail damage to their roof. Frank supposedly solicited them to engage Livesay as their attorney in a property damage claim against Allstate, but they never met with or spoke to Livesay.

Nevertheless, Livesay subsequently sent a letter to Allstate claiming that he had been retained to represent the Esparzas on a hail-damage claim, according to the petition.

Using case runners to solicit clients for attorneys is a form of barratry and is illegal in Texas.

Heretofore, it has not been punished very often, however, and some attorneys have gotten used to engaging in it without reprisal.

Now might be a good time to stop.

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