Many of you may have read recently about a local attorney, Jeffery Stern, who was indicted for “conspiracy, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and multiple tax violations in a barratry scheme.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term “barratry”, just substitute “ambulance chaser." [Bellaire Lawyer, 4 Others Accused of Ambulance Chasing, Houston Chronicle, August 20, 2019] The judge overseeing the case has denied Stern bail, so he is currently sitting in federal prison.
Some of you may recall that Stern was previously indicted in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his wife. That case was ultimately dismissed when Stern and his wife reconciled, and she refused to testify against him. Houston Chronicle, July 20, 2012
But what you probably do not know is that Stern has a long-standing relationship with Tony Buzbee.
In 2002, Stern was retained by a worker injured in an offshore accident. Buzbee was his co-counsel on the case. The worker later sued Stern, Buzbee and two alleged “case runners” for malpractice in handling the case and being pressured to hire Stern. Buzbee settled the case for an undisclosed amount.*
Stern also contributed $25,000 to Buzbee in 2002 when he ran as a Democrat for the Texas House of Representatives against Larry Taylor. Buzbee only raised a little more than $26,000, so Stern was essentially his only contributor.
Tony Buzbee has been running negative attack ads on me because my former law firm used Turner’s firm as co-counsel on cases where it was attempting to collect parking ticket fines from rental car companies for the City. The engagement started in late 2004. I sold my interest in the firm in 2005. While I was there Turner’s firm was paid $2,500 per month for their work on those cases and was one of dozens of minority lawyers our firm used to satisfy its MWBE requirements.
Turner never lobbied for the firm or had anything to do with it getting any business. The allegation that there was something inappropriate about my former firm hiring minority firms to help with its cases as required by our contracts with our clients is kind of the tactic you expect from a sleazy trial lawyer.
My mother early on taught me that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” The same is true for people criticizing co-counsel agreements, especially when one of their co-counsels is currently sitting in federal prison.
Instead of talking about co-counsel agreements from many years ago, I would suggest our time would be better spent discussing our flood plans, how we are going to reduce violent crime and what we are going to do about the slow motion financial train wreck at the City.
I have spent decades serving this community and studying the issues our City faces. I am ready to go to work and create a City Hall that works and one that you can be proud of.