The SE Texas Record Sep. 13, 2016, 8:02am


Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa has served as a Cameron County judge, a 107th District Court judge, and a 13th Court of Appeals judge. You'd think a guy like that would know the law inside and out.

He couldn't possibly not know what barratry is or be unaware that it's against the law?

Hinojosa
Hinojosa

Attempting to instigate or encourage litigation for profit (barratry) is illegal in Texas.

Whether he knows what it is or not, and aware or not of its illegality, Hinojosa does seem to have a lot of explaining to do about barratry language contained in school district minutes written after a board meeting about a lawsuit he was involved in.

If anything, the punishment ought to be more severe for someone who should know better, and Hinojosa is someone who should know better.

The million-dollar Hurricane Dolly lawsuit that the Rio Hondo Independent School District filed in Cameron County District Court – Hinojosa's old stomping grounds – against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association in 2014, six years after the storm, has settled out of court. The school district had been represented by the law firms of Hinojosa and fellow storm-chasing attorney Steve Mostyn.

As a former board member of the Brownsville Independent School District, Hinojosa would have been a logical choice for the Rio Hondo District to seek out for representation. The minutes, however, makes it sound as if Hinojosa solicited them, not vice versa.

According to the minutes of a January 2014 Rio Hondo ISD board meeting, Superintendent Ismael Garcia “explained that this law firm (Gilberto Hinojosa and Associates) approached him but he has not negotiated a contract until he gets directive from the school board.”

Hinojosa reportedly told the board that he and Mostyn were representing Brownsville ISD in its Dolly suit against TWIA and wanted to offer Rio Hondo the same kind of help.

“This is why we brought this to the attention of Superintendent Garcia … Mr. Hinojosa stated,” according to the minutes.

Hinojosa “approached” the superintendent and “brought” this to his attention.

If those words in the minutes prove correct, it sounds like a barratry charge should be pursued.

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