Texas justices seated on the Ninth Court of Appeals recently affirmed a lower court's ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed by an inmate, who sued his court appointed attorney after being convicted.

Larry Lawson filed suit against attorney Raquel West on Nov. 16, 2009, in Jefferson County District Court, alleging he had a mental disorder that should have prevented him from standing trial.

West was appointed by a court of law to represent Lawson in a criminal matter on Aug. 11, 2005, court records show.

In his suit, Lawson alleges West owed him a legal duty to bring his alleged mental retardation and mental illness to the attention of the court.

Shortly after the suit was filed, West filed a summary judgment motion asserting a lack of causation, arguing that Lawson was prohibited from bringing the action because he was not exonerated in the criminal case.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, granted the motion, prompting Lawson to file an appeal on Feb. 16, 2010, court papers say.

The Ninth Court affirmed the court's ruling on Thursday May 19.

"Lawson has not been exonerated. No material issue of fact exists on the proximate cause element of the legal malpractice action," states the court's opinion, authored by Justice David Gaultney.

"The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment. We overrule Lawson's issues and affirm the judgment."

Lawson is suing for $850,000 in damages.

Trial case No. B185-348
Appeals case No. 09-10-00052-CV

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