An extensive federal investigation found corruption in the Cameron County’s legal system and judiciary to be so pervasive that most people probably wouldn’t believe it — “unless they heard it themselves,” U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen said in 2013.
Hanen made his statement on Dec. 3, as he sentenced Austin attorney Marc G. Rosenthal to 20 years in jail and ordered him to make restitution of more than $13 million for bribing former 404th state District Judge Abel C. Limas.
The jury found Rosenthal paid Limas for favorable court rulings in civil cases, bribed witnesses, filed false personal injury cases, directed ex-state Rep. Jim Solis and others to pay funeral home directors and ex-Brownsville Navigation District police Chief George Gavito to refer cases. It also found he arranged to manipulate case assignments at the Cameron County District Clerk’s Office, and paid persons to pose as witnesses and to provide false statements, and testimony.
On that same day that the jury returned its verdict on Rosenthal, attorney Ray R. Marchan was supposed to report to federal prison in Fort Worth, following his June 18, 2012 conviction on six counts of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, aiding and abetting extortion and mail fraud. He was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail.
Instead, Marchan jumped to his death from the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge.
Hanen said that the court had heard witnesses and seen exhibits that show uncharged illegal acts and violations of disciplinary rules.“Some of this evidence was presented to the jury and some of it was not,” Hanen also said. “In fact, defense counsel requested, and this court felt duty-bound by law to give an instruction to the jury to disregard these ethical violations in reaching its verdict,” Hanen stated.“The U.S. Attorneys and federal agents involved in the trial of this case are hereby ordered to provide the appropriate authorities at the State Bar of Texas, Chief Judge Ricardo Hinojosa of the Southern District of Texas and the Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit or his designee a copy of this order and, if they so request, the evidence of the multiple ethical violations committed by multiple attorneys involved in this case.“This includes the evidence not presented at trial and covers all attorneys involved, not just the defendant,” Hanen ordered.He continued: “This court has great admiration for the trial bar and the benefits that trial lawyers (both prosecution and defense) provide to society. It is their vigilance, among others, that ensures that the system of justice works and that the rights of all Americans are protected.”“That being said, nothing can do more harm to society than an individual, (or a group of individuals) armed with a law license (or working for someone armed with a law license) that has no moral compass, no respect for the rules governing ethical conduct and no respect for the truth. Some of the acts or omissions may be considered minor; some may have been inadvertent,” Hanen wrote.“Nevertheless, there were some acts that were neither minor nor accidental mistakes, and the individuals that committed these acts, in this Court’s opinion, should not be allowed to practice law anywhere.”