Former state rep Jim Solis disbarred in connection with Limas case - Valley Morning Star : News

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Former state rep Jim Solis disbarred in connection with Limas case

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Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:00 am

BROWNSVILLE — Former state Rep. Jim Solis’ legal career ended Tuesday with his expulsion from the practice of law.

Solis, of Harlingen, on April 10 entered into an agreed judgment of disbarment with the State Bar of Texas’ Commission for Lawyer Discipline, which had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him late last year.

Solis, 48, had been practicing law since 1989 shortly after graduating from Texas Southern University.

Solis pleaded guilty last year in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to aiding and abetting extortion in connection with former 404th state District Judge Abel C. Limas’ bribery scheme. Limas pleaded guilty to racketeering. Both await sentencing.

The agreed judgment of disbarment states that an evidentiary panel appointed by the chairman of the Bar’s District 12 Grievance Committee found that Solis had committed professional misconduct by aiding and abetting extortion.

“Mr. Solis acknowledges that his conduct that gave rise to the federal matter would result in disbarment, and he entered into the Agreed Judgment of Disbarment because it was the right thing to do,” his attorney, Sharon E. Conway of The Woodlands, said in a written statement, adding that Solis “accepts responsibility.”

Conway also said that Solis continues to fully cooperate with federal officials on the federal case.

The bar commission initiated disciplinary proceedings against Solis in state district court last year on a grievance filed by the Hurtado family alleging that Solis through a third party had solicited clients at a funeral home.

Conway said the action that is pending in state district court is a “completely different matter, wholly unrelated to the (federal case), and Mr. Solis continues to assert that he committed no professional misconduct as alleged by the Hurtado family.”

“It is our understanding that the disciplinary case filed from the Hurtado grievance will soon be dismissed,” she said.

The general counsel for the State Bar of Texas was not available for comment Wednesday.

In addition to being disbarred, Solis was directed to pay $1,500 in attorney’s fees and expenses to the State Bar of Texas.

Solis is the latest attorney to face disciplinary action by the State Bar for involvement in the Limas case.

A year ago, Limas resigned from the practice of law in lieu of disciplinary action.

In September, the commission also called for disciplinary action against attorney Marc G. Rosenthal, who also was indicted in connection with the criminal cases against Limas, Solis and others. Rosenthal has pleaded not guilty. The petition for disciplinary action is still pending.

The Commission for Lawyer Discipline also has petitioned to discipline attorney Jose Martin “Joe” Valle. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen recently sentenced Valle to one year and one day in jail for aiding Limas in the extortion scheme.

The Supreme Court of Texas recently appointed Judge Victor H. Negron Jr. of the 438th state District Court in Bexar County to preside in this disciplinary action that would be filed in a state district court in Cameron County.

Texas statutes allow attorneys who have been disbarred or who have resigned from the practice of law in lieu of discipline to seek reinstatement after at least five years of leading a model life.

But Conway, Solis’ attorney, did not comment when asked if Solis planned to seek reinstatement.

The general counsel for the State Bar of Texas was not immediately available Wednesday to say if an attorney who has been disbarred could apply to practice law in another state.

eperez-trevino@valleystar.com