HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Ninth District State Court of Appeals has stopped a $200,000 defamation suit filed by Beaumont lawyer John Morgan against Houston lawyer Sheryl Johnson-Todd. Johnson-Todd previously represented Morgan's ex-wife in a bitter child custody fight.
Morgan sued Johnson-Todd over information revealed to the court during the custody proceeding, namely that Morgan had entered a criminal plea to lying under oath to police. Morgan claimed Johnson-Todd had "defamed" him, even though his criminal record shows he admitted he lied to police. A separate suit pending in Jefferson County's 60 District Court shows the Texas Commission on Lawyer Discipline wants to disbar Morgan for the crime.
Justice Hollis Horton wrote, “When an individual attempts to manipulate the legal system to intimidate and silence others who have used the system to vindicate their rights, the act threatens a core value of democracy-the right to petition a court to address a grievance." Chief Justice Steve McKeithen and Justice Charles Kreger concurred.
"Morgan's suit against his ex-wife's attorney was obviously retaliatory," said Johnson-Todd's attorney, Jeffrey L. Dorrell.
"An attorney's argument to a judge during a hearing is a privileged judicial communication," said Dorrell, "and the court of appeals strongly agreed." The court ordered Morgan to pay Johnson-Todd's attorney's fees and other damages.
In 2016, Dorrell is scheduled to argue Husky International Electronics v. Ritz before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case will determine whether bankruptcy could act as a shield from liability for fraudulent transfers.
ABOUT HANSZEN LAPORTE, LLP
Founded in 1997, Hanszen Laporte proudly represents a diverse array of clients – from individuals and new entities to Fortune 500 corporations. The firm expertly handles a broad spectrum of cases across practice areas such as litigation, business, real estate, appellate, and criminal law. Notable results include arguing an international treaty in the U.S. Supreme Court, closing multi-million dollar real estate transactions and making new First Amendment law in the Texas Supreme Court.
ABOUT JEFFREY L. DORRELL
Jeffrey L. Dorrell maintains an active trial and appellate litigation practice with Hanszen Laporte. He has represented over 400 clients in multiple states and in the US Supreme Court with amounts in controversy as large as $161 million. With a 100% win record defending defamation suits, Dorrell is frequently recognized as a preeminent libel attorney.