Rick Casey researched Mark Sandoval’s disciplinary record back in October of last year (when he was representing Elizabeth Shelton’s mother).
Sandoval has been sanctioned four times by the State Bar of Texas. The least serious was failing to show up for four successive trial settings for a client.
The most serious involved submitting a voucher to an insurance company for a settlement in a wrongful-death case listing as clients both the mother and the father of the deceased. Although Sandoval did not actually represent the father, the father’s name was forged both on the settlement papers and on the insurance check made out to Sandoval and the two parents.
Sandoval did not respond to the Bar’s request for documents that would show what happened to the $168,750 in insurance money. After a jury trial, his law license was suspended for three years, ending in 2001.
There’s more; read Rick’s article. Also this one:
Sandoval has been suspended twice by the State Bar for a total of four years, thrown in jail for a day for lying to a judge, kicked off a legislative ballot for lying about his residence, fined the maximum by a jury on campaign finance violations after acting as his own lawyer, and had his fees garnisheed by the IRS for several years for failure to pay his taxes.
Also, if I recall correctly, isn’t Mark Sandoval a fact witness to that case? Something about the “black box” that had been in Elizabeth Shelton’s vehicle . . .
The Chronicle (note to Chronicle: if you included the archives in your default search, I would have found all of this stuff for my first post) again:
Prosecutor Paul Doyle told a judge Thursday that jurors should know Elizabeth Shelton’s SUV was not preserved for investigators.
Doyle told visiting state District Judge Richard Mays outside of the jury’s presence that Mark T. Sandoval, an attorney representing Shelton’s mother in a lawsuit related to the crash, went to an impound lot where Shelton’s totaled Lexus was stored, moved it to another lot and ripped the crash data recorder from its console.
Sandoval later handed over the box to prosecutors, but Lexus officials refused to analyze it, Doyle said.
Prosecutors summoned Sandoval to court Thursday to ask him about the incident. But attorney Terry Cornelius said Sandoval would assert his Fifth Amendment privilege and refuse to answer questions since a Harris County grand jury had investigated the allegations.
Here is the rule on a witness acting as a lawyer. He can’t generally do it if he is a witness necessary to establish an essential fact for his client, and he can’t do it without his client’s informed consent if he will be compelled to furnish testimony against his client. It’s not clear that either of these situations apply, but Sandoval is certainly a witness to the potential spoliation of evidence by the defendants.
The rule in civil court is generally that if a party takes the Fifth then the answer to the question is presumed against him; I don’t know whether this rule would apply equally to the party’s representative, but Sandoval is risking a lot, in many ways, by prosecuting this lawsuit himself.
Ordinarily in such a situation I would ask what the client was thinking, using that particular lawyer. In this case I think the answer might well be that nobody but Sandoval would even touch the case.