Robert Pelton

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Robert Pelton is the former President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA), Associate Director for TCDLA, and Feature Articles Editor of the Voice, as well as serving as editor and assistant editor of Docket Call. Among his many honors, Robert was named by H Texas magazine as one of the top criminal lawyers in Harris County (2004–2010) and one of Houston’s Top Lawyers for the People in criminal law (2004–2010), and he is listed in the Martindale Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Robert has offices in Abilene and Houston.

Stories from Robert Pelton

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

The Bible reminds us—a time to keep silence, and a time to speak—
As lawyers there is a time to keep silent . . .

Case 1:

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

QUESTION

I need a lay witness to testify. It’s too late for a subpoena. Is it unethical to compensate her for her time to appear?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Mayday took over in the age of direct voice communications. Whenever a ship and its crew find themselves in a dangerous situation, they can lead every message with either two or three calls for mayday! This tells all listeners that the following message will contain urgent, life-or-death information and that they have to drop everything to provide assistance to this distraught crew.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Who among us has been interrogated by their 4-year-old child or grandchild about what lawyers do? Unfortunately, we do not make our living playing Pet Bingo, Llama Spit Spit, or Toca Kitchen on a tablet. For most of us, at the end of the day, all of our time is spent TALKING, and our currency is information: Whether it be privileged, non-privileged, helpful, or harmful, we process A LOT of it. Gone are the days of Atticus Finch and Perry Mason. Simple letters couriered by the mailman and telephone calls from a land line and consultations only in the office are dead.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Trying to love two women is like a ball and chain.
Trying to love two women is like a ball and chain.
Sometimes the pleasure ain’t worth the strain.
It’s a long old grind and it tires your mind.

                                —“Trying to Love Two Women,” Sonny Throckmorton

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

We live in a changing society. Some changes are good and some are bad. As lawyers, especially those of us who have been around a while, we have seen major changes. In the beginning there were no cell phones, no fax machines, no computers, no email, no text messages, no twitter, Instagram, snapchat, Facebook, power point, skype, or LAWYER ADVERTISING (except having a listing in the phone book). The first outrageous ad I remember was for Cal Worthington, used car dealer in California, riding an elephant trying to get attention for his car lot.

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

There have been several calls to the hotline from lawyers faced with a dilemma when they find themselves with evidence or knowledge of evidence in a criminal case. For instance, a client may bring in a bloody knife and tell you they just stabbed someone. A client could bring in a gun and tell you they just shot someone in a robbery. A client may tell you their cell phone contains pornography or other bad information. What do you do?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Many lawyers are faced with dealing with incompetent clients. Rules 1.02(a3) and 1.05(c4) deal with some of those issues. As we know from the Supreme Court’s McCoy v. Louisiana, 138 S.Ct. 1500 (2018), the client is the final decision-maker on most issues. Many times, there is not a perfect answer that guides the lawyer on what to do when you have a client who is not playing with a full deck. This article deals with some of the answers from our Ethics Committee that may guide you in the ethical route that is in the best interest of your client.

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Discussions of previous acts are generally subject to the attorney-client privilege. If, for example, a client tells his lawyer that he robbed a bank or lied about assets during a divorce, the lawyer probably can’t disclose the information. But if a client initiates a communication with a lawyer for the purpose of committing a crime or an act of fraud in the future, the attorney-client privilege typically doesn’t apply. Likewise, most states allow—or require—attorneys to disclose information learned from a client that will prevent death or serious injury.

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

When I worked at a printing shop in Abilene, Texas, customers would come in and order posters, business cards, and circulars for sales events at grocery and department stores.

One day, a traveling salesman came in and ordered 500 8 x 10 cards that read “The Boss May Not Always Be Right, But He Is Always the Boss.” The salesman gave them out to the customers he called on. Almost every small business in Abilene had one.

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

All the rules and information in this article require some careful study, as there may be some duplication. The bottom line: Follow the rules before you put your Superman ad on TV, the internet, Facebook, or other social media. An ad picturing you stopping an 18-wheeler or jumping on cars or trucks may be something only Superman could do, but even Superman may not be able to save you from a grievance if you don’t get it approved by the State Bar.

Ethics and the Law Apr18-1
Saturday, March 31st, 2018

The phrase “speaks with a forked tongue” means to deliberately say one thing and mean another—or to be hypocritical or act in a duplicitous manner. In the longstanding tradition of many Native American tribes, “speaking with a forked tongue” has meant lying, and a person was no longer considered worthy of trust once he had been shown to speak with a forked tongue.

Ethics and the Law Mar18-1
Friday, March 9th, 2018

To ethically represent an accused citizen, you must be sure they know the consequences of a plea or finding of guilt. Judge Herb Ritchie, formerly a partner in the law firm of Ritchie and Glass, recently was a guest speaker at the Wednesday Appellate Update class in Houston. Greg Glass shared some of the forms and agreements used by the law firm. They are included in this article. In the law practice these days it is very important to correspond in person, by phone, by letter, or in a jail visit. Failure to communicate is one of the leading causes of a grievance.

Ethics and the Law Dec17-1
Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Another recent tragic event at the Harris County Jail makes it very clear the severity of mental illness. A defendant who was set to plead to life without parole hung himself with bed sheets. Where were the guards? What happened to this poor soul who chose death over prison? What happened to the family he left? What happened to the family that was set to confront him in court in the witness impact statements?

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Life is full of problems. . . The life of a lawyer can bring on many problems that regular citizens are not aware of and sometimes have little sympathy for. . .  Lawyers—like doctors, law enforcement officers, and other professions—are disliked and sometimes hated until they are needed.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

When the ethics committee gets a question, it is sent out to all members of the committee. The answers are received promptly so the lawyer can get a fast answer. The following is a real question from a lawyer who called in, and these committee members gave fast answers. Everything we do is serious business.

Ethics and the Law: Racehorse - By Robert Pelton
Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Lawyer Haynes was an inspiration to us all. I had the  privilege to work with him on a few cases. Yes, he was a great lawyer but also a great American. Lawyer Haynes had served our country in one of the worst battles of WWII, the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was in the middle of the battle and would run messages back and forth to different commanders. He told me they picked him because he was short and less likely to be shot. He was fearless in war and fearless as a lawyer. It was my good fortune to get to know him and the other lawyers and non-lawyers who worked with him.

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Joseph Connors has submitted this issue for discussion with the Ethics Committee. The issue is a recurring problem—prosecutors not disclosing evidence to the defense. The following is the question and responses from Keith Hampton, Larry McDougal, and Joseph Connors. Lawyer Connors has also provided motions that he files.

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

This is an article written by Jim Skelton in 1985 with some very good information for us all. Jim left this world March 8, 2017. Jim had been the Significant Decisions Editor for the Voice and a longtime participant in the TCDLA Huntsville Trial College. Jim helped many lawyers and helped me come up with the idea for the Ethics Committee and hotline to help lawyers. In Jim’s honor, this will be the Ethics article for this issue. (Note: Judge McKay, from East Texas, was a Harris County judge for many years.)

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

The following comments are from Ethics Committee member Brent Mayr in response to last month’s column, “Don’t Act Ugly”:

My two cents to add to an already valuable article: