BELTON — Former Bell County veterans’ liaison Jim Endicott relinquished his license to practice law in December in lieu of disciplinary action.
Endicott was facing three disciplinary charges dating back to 2009 relating either to his failure to take meaningful action on a case or failure to return a settlement payment received by one of his clients, according to documents provided by the State Bar of Texas.
Endicott is accused of allegedly bilking his clients out of nearly $12,000.
These were not the first complaints brought against Endicott.
In November 2008, in his capacity as a private attorney, Endicott was hired by Clyde Walker to represent him in a benefits claim with Veterans Affairs.
Walker paid Endicott an advance fee of $2,500.
The State Bar of Texas found Endicott failed to take any meaningful action on Walker’s case and that in January 2010, Endicott stopped communicating with Walker.
On Jan. 24, 2011, Walker terminated Endicott as his representative and requested Endicott return any unearned portion of the $2,500 advance. Documents from the state bar show Endicott failed to do so.
In the Walker case, the bar found Endicott engaged in professional misconduct and suspended him from practicing law from Jan. 1, 2013, to June 30, 2013, and placed him on 30-month probation, which would have ended Dec. 31, 2015.
When asked how Endicott’s decision will impact any attempts to collect the money he owes to his former clients, Claire Mock, public affairs administrator for the state bar’s chief disciplinary counsel, said since Endicott resigned his law license, the bar no longer has any jurisdiction over him.
“However, the State Bar of Texas has a client-protection fund called the Client Security Fund,” Mock said. “Clients can apply for reimbursement when an attorney has stolen their money or failed to refund an unearned fee.”
Attempts to contact Endicott were unsuccessful. In a November interview about the Walker case, he refused to discuss the case beyond explaining the professional nature of his relationship with Walker and saying he didn’t see any connection between the case and his work for Bell County.
He also refused to comment on his suspension and probation.
“That’s a matter of public record and I don’t want to say anything about that,” Endicott said.
He refused to comment on his then-pending disciplinary hearings by describing them as “a matter for the state bar.”
Mock said Endicott was not alone in his choice to resign instead of face discipline.
“From June 1, 2012, to May 31, 2013, we had 24 resignations in lieu of discipline,” Mock said. “The prior fiscal year we had 27.” Mock said the general range is “in the mid-20s.”
Mock added that had Endicott decided not to surrender his license, the evidentiary panel could have considered “the full range of discipline” in each of his three cases. The punishments could have ranged from a private, confidential reprimand all the way to disbarment.
She said when considering disciplinary action against an attorney, the panel or district judge hearing the case “will look at all of the factors, including past discipline, the severity of the misconduct and whether the attorney has tried to pay any money back to the client.”
Endicott’s prior disciplinary actions would “have been a factor” in the panel’s decision.
“A disciplinary matter is just like a criminal trial,” Mock said, “in the sense that first, the panel or judge must find that the attorney is guilty of the alleged misconduct before determining what sanction to mete out.”