The civil cases regarding malpractice filed against a Denton attorney by the State Bar of Texas were closed Monday after he resigned his bar license in lieu of discipline, court records indicate.
Rocky Haire of Denton was under investigation by the Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline for allegedly mishandling and abusing client funds in 19 such cases, with another two cited in a recent filing. While the civil suit was ongoing, the State Bar of Texas sought Haire’s license suspension because it believed he posed a threat to clients and/or prospective clients if he continued practicing, records show.
Now that he’s no longer an active attorney, the case is closed.
“A resignation in lieu of discipline is basically a voluntary disbarment, and he no longer has a law license,” Claire Reynolds, a spokesperson for the state bar’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel, said in an email Wednesday.
David Hutton, an attorney for Haire, said in October that Haire filed in early September to surrender his license because he was tired of practicing law. Hutton said the civil malpractice case didn’t influence his decision.
Reynolds said clients who had money stolen from Haire have a few options available to them.
“Clients who had money stolen … should first send a letter to his office requesting whatever money they believe is due to them,” Reynolds said. “They might also try contacting law enforcement. They can also apply to the Client Security Fund.”
Clients can apply to the fund through the State Bar of Texas’ website. Eligible clients include those who filed grievances against their attorney, and the attorneys received disciplinary action; any whose attorney has died; or any whose attorney has been disbarred or resigned from practicing.
Reynolds said this isn’t a quick process.
“It’s entirely separate from the disciplinary process, and each and every application must be reviewed and voted upon by a team of volunteer State Bar of Texas board members,” she said. “The money comes from the bar dues of all of the lawyers in Texas. We don’t have a really good way to make a resigned or disbarred attorney pay back the money they owe because, once they resign or are disbarred, we no longer have the one tool in our pocket to enforce compliance: the threat of taking away a law license. But people should absolutely apply if they believe they are owed money.”
Hutton said that while these cases are closed, he and Haire are still working through others.
“We’re still dealing with some civil cases, their attorneys and their clients and their claims,” Hutton said. “And we’re still dealing with [the county’s] specially assigned prosecutor. … We’re trying to deal with one area at a time as best we can.”