The downfall of the dirtiest DA in Texas
You could write an entire book just about John C. Paschall, the former DA of Robertson County. He is a corrupt and racist drunk, and he was the inspiration for the dirty DA in the movie American Violet. As a deputy sheriff, I have dealt with some real dirt bags, but Paschall nonetheless manages to distinguish himself. Just Google “John Paschall,” or look at my past blog posts about him on LawFlog.com, and you'll see what I mean.
As you can see on pages 16-19 of the federal complaint, by 2009 I was already aware of evidence that Paschall had misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from the estate of Marium Oscar, the last survivor of the Jewish community in Calvert, Texas. In 2011, I decided to track down the heirs of Ms. Oscar. I had mentioned Ms. Oscar in the federal lawsuit simply to illustrate the nature of the racketeering enterprise, but at that point nobody could legally challenge Paschall's handling of her estate because, as far as anyone knew, she had no heirs. That's why I needed to find the heirs: I wanted to sue Paschall.
I had a variety of reasons for wanting to sue him, including the fact that I was genuinely offended by what he had done to Ms. Oscar and her estate, but I also knew that Paschall and the other racketeers would keep right on thieving and ruining people's lives until somebody stopped them. Paschall was the weakest link in the Booger County Mafia, and the Oscar case was his greatest point of exposure. The Oscar case, therefore, was the best point of attack on the BCM.
After several weeks of digging through courthouse records, Ancestry.com, and skip finder databases, I located Ms. Oscar's first cousin, Harry Oscar, Jr. of Houston. Mr. Oscar was raised Catholic, and he knew very little about his relatives (he did not know his father was Jewish until I told him), but he didn't care for thieves and swindlers any more than I did. I agreed to represent Mr. Oscar pro bono, and the lawsuit against Paschall was originally filed on June 7, 2011 in the pending probate case for Ms. Oscar's estate. Judge Stem was presiding over that case, but my appearance on behalf of Mr. Oscar forced Judge Stem to recuse himself, leading to the appointment of Senior District Judge H.D. Black, Jr. Not surprisingly, Rusty Russ entered the case to defend Paschall.
According to Ms. Oscar's will, all of her assets were bequeathed to a trust, but we challenged whether the trust even existed. Two more cousins (John and Marsha Gilbert) were later substituted as plaintiffs and we fought to the court of appeals and back before Paschall was finally forced to release the document that created the trust. That's when we learned that Ms. Oscar's money was to be used to create a museum in honor of her mother in Calvert, where her considerable antique collection could be displayed. If that failed, the money was supposed to be given to a charity located in Calvert.
Ms. Oscar died in 2004, and as of 2011 there was no museum in Calvert, and there were no gifts to any charities. With the permission of the Gilberts, I offered to represent the Calvert Historical Foundation pro bono against Paschall, and (despite a second trip to the court of appeals) the case finally started getting traction. Paschall was ordered to produce documents and answer interrogatories, and it soon became clear that more than six figures in estate funds was missing.
Show me the money
After the trial judge ordered Paschall to deposit more than $86,000 in estate funds in the court registry, Paschall brought the money to the district clerk's office in a brown paper bag full of cash. I kid you not. To this day, he refuses to say where the money came from. According to the evidence that I provided to the Texas Rangers and the FBI, Paschall would write checks to himself from Ms. Oscar's accounts, then claim that he was paying himself for “attorney fees.” From the time that he took over Ms. Oscar's affairs in 1996 until 2012, Paschall had written himself about $150,000.00 worth of checks for attorney fees, plus more than $40,000.00 to the IRS, most likely to pay off his tax liens.
In 2012, Paschall was up for re-election, so I launched RedFacedDrunk.com, the “unofficial and completely unauthorized campaign website” for Paschall. Rusty and Paschall were so beside themselves that they asked Judge Black to issue a gag order to keep me from blogging about the Marium Oscar estate. Judge Black denied the request, and I kept right on blogging. After almost 30 years in office, Paschall was defeated for re-election by Coty Siegert (a good man who probably would have won in his own right, i.e., without me hectoring Paschall from the sidelines).
This was a serious blow to the Booger County Mafia. Paschall had long been the “useful idiot” of the BCM, a prosecutor so severely impaired by alcoholism and so easily blackmailed as a result of his own crimes that he could never be a threat to anyone else in the Booger County political establishment. On the other hand, he could try to frame people -- like me -- who threatened the BCM. Without the power of his office, however, Paschall went from useful idiot to just plain old idiot.
Since then, Rusty has used nearly every dirty trick that he knows in order to save Paschall, but most of his tricks are just not working anymore. That is really making Rusty crazy, so much so that he challenged me to a fist fight in open court back in January. Judge Stem cannot help much because he is no longer on the case, although Judge Stem can still stack the grand jury with cronies (and he appears to be doing just that, having appointed the sister-in-law of one of Paschall's lawyers as forewoman of the grand jury, even though I have repeatedly asked for his recusal from all grand jury proceedings because he has a conflict of interest). In his latest stunt, Rusty tried to get the civil case transferred to a judge whom he controls, i.e., County Judge Jan Roe (and unfortunately he succeeded because of the dereliction of the Texas Attorney General's Office).
There is another reason why Rusty is so bent out of shape: Paschall has become a serious liability to his fellow racketeers, including Rusty. The state bar has already filed charges against Paschall, and Assistant Attorney General Shane Attaway was appointed district attorney pro tem (i.e., special prosecutor) to pursue criminal charges againt Paschall. I suspect Paschall will be indicted some time in the Fall. I recently sent a letter to various federal officials regarding the evidence that Paschall has engaged in bank fraud, mail fraud, and tax fraud, and the FBI is now investigating. Paschall is a coward, and as I mentioned in that letter, he will likely offer to testify against Judge Stem, Rusty, and Jimmie in order to reduce his prison time.
A microcosm of Booger County corruption
If you want to see something really outrageous, take a look at the bar grievance below that I filed against Rusty in 2013, as well as the related correspondence. Rusty was literally representing people on both sides of the same case, which in that instance it was the case against Paschall. Before offering to represent the Calvert Historical Foundation, I had contacted former Calvert City Councilman Alan Weise about representing the Jewish Cemetery pro bono against Paschall. The rules and the law expressly permit attorneys to solicit clients for charitable purposes (if you are going to represent the client for free), but as you can see from the July 13, 2013 e-mail chain below, Rusty was beside himself. Rusty argued that it was perfectly appropriate for him to advise Mr. Weise about whether Mr. Weise's group should sue Paschall in the same case where Rusty already represented Paschall. Instead, Rusty argued, I was in the wrong because I was trying to *gasp* solicit a client, never mind the fact that I was offering to represent the client for free.
For decades, Rusty and the other lawyers at his firm have operated as if there is no such thing as a conflict of interest, particularly where their government clients are concerned, and those government clients include Robertson County and all four municipalities in the county. Rusty tried to excuse all of his conflicts of interest in his response to my grievance, and note the affidavits that he included from the mayors and the county judge (below). That would be Jan Roe, the same county judge to whom Rusty seeks a transfer of the Paschall case. In other words, Rusty wants to have one of his clients preside over one of his cases (then again, that's what he has been doing all along with Judge Stem).
In my reply to Rusty (below), I pointed out that the affidavits themselves presented new conflicts of interest, and they even raise questions about Rusty's competence as a municipal attorney. Of course, if I had been representing clients on both sides of the same case, I would have been suspended or disbarred. But remember, Rusty served 16 years on a state bar grievance committee. Not surprisingly, the state bar refused to prosecute him (or Jimmie, Trey, or the other member of their firm, Mollie Hedrick).
* July 13, 2013 E-mail exchange between Ty Clevenger and Rusty Russ
* July 16, 2013 Judicial Complaint against Rusty Russ
* July 26, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 9, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 15, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 16, 2013 Letter from Rusty Russ to the State Bar of Texas
* August 19, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas
* August 21, 2013 Letter from Rusty Russ to the State Bar of Texas
* August 22, 2013 Letter from Ty Clevenger to the State Bar of Texas