When the Commission for Lawyer Discipline and Beaumont attorney Rhett Phares, who allegedly demanded $100,000 from his former client and threatened him by lauding his influence over local judges, square off in court later this month, an out-of-town judge will preside over the trial.
The trial to discipline Phares, which could include possible disbarment, is slated to be held Feb. 21 in Judge Gary Sanderson's 6oth District Court. However, Tarrant County Judge Judith Wells, 325th District Court, will be behind the gavel when the trial starts, according to a courthouse official.
The lawsuit, filed April 18, 2011, in Jefferson County District Court, stems from a case filed by Phares' former client, Dr. Saeed Ally, who sued the attorney last July.
Dr. Ally, a Beaumont cardiovascular surgeon, filed a lawsuit against Phares on July 19 in Jefferson County District Court, after receiving emails from Phares allegedly demanding a $100,000 cash payment in exchange for keeping private information confidential.
The Commission for Lawyer Discipline alleges in its suit that Phares' emails contained multiple threats, "including claims that he was able to improperly influence government agencies and officials (such as) various judges."
The commission's lawsuit faults Phares with numerous rule violations, including representing opposing parties in the same litigation, improper communications, threatening persons with criminal charges to gain an advantage in a civil matter and implying an ability to improperly influence a government agency or official.
The suit does not name the government officials and judges Phares supposedly holds sway with.
Chief Disciplinary Counsel Linda Acevedo represents the commission.
Phares represents himself.
Case No. B189-800