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

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Geoff Grubb, M.D., one of my childhood friends who I met at age seven in Abilene, Texas, became a psychiatrist. He finished high school at age 17, went to medical school, and then became a psychiatrist. He trained at Rusk State Hospital and at the end of his career did psychiatric work at state hospitals all over Texas.

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

As you get older, you realize no man is an island. This thought came to me at the Rusty Duncan award ceremony when I saw John Dietz, Bill White, John Boston, Ron Goranson, Scrappy Holmes, Tim Evans, and a few others. Travis Bryan was not there. Travis is now a District Court Judge in Bryan. Back then, he was like the rest of us, working as a defense lawyer. Rusty Duncan had also been part of our group at the Huntsville Trial College. We had many things in common and became fast friends.

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Make sure when you get a new case it is done in an ethical manner. Since the beginning of time, some lawyers have been dishonest. There are bad apples in every barrel. We must all pay attention and not violate the rules.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

“Cool Hand Luke” is a 1967 American prison drama film starring Paul Newman in the title role as Lucas “Luke” Jackson, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system and observe the established pecking order among prisoners. In a 1940s setting, Luke is arrested and sentenced to prison for two years after vandalizing parking meters. Luke’s resistance to observe the pecking order runs afoul with the prisoners’ leader, Dragline. Luke takes a beating from Dragline and eventually earns his respect and that of the other prisoners.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Many times a lawyer’s business gets put on the streets when he posts a message on a listserv. Although information put on a listserv is supposed to be confidential, it gets leaked to the wrong person. The TCDLA Ethics Committee created the hotline specifically for criminal defense lawyers with criminal law issues. The messages we get are confidential to the caller. We may use the question only as an example in an article, but names and identifying information shall remain confidential. Lawyers continue to talk about their cases in the elevators at courthouses across the state.

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

George Johnson was buried in Boot Hill graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1882. His tombstone reads:

HERE LIES GEORGE JOHNSON HANGED BY MISTAKE... HE WAS RIGHT WE WAS WRONG BUT WE STRUNG HIM UP AND NOW HE’S GONE

In 1882, justice was swift, but was not always fair. George Johnson had the misfortune of being hung after he was accused of stealing a horse. The good citizens of Tombstone learned too late that George unknowingly purchased the horse from the actual thief.

Ethics and the Law: Bubba Shot the Jukebox - By Robert Pelton
Friday, December 28th, 2012

We were all down at Margie’s bar
Telling stories if we had one
Someone fired the old jukebox up
The song sure was a sad one
A teardrop rolled down Bubba’s nose
From the pain the song was inflicting
And all at once he jumped to his feet
Just like somebody kicked him

Bubba shot the juke box last night
Said it played a sad song it made him cry
Went to his truck and got a forty five
Bubba shot the juke box last night

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Several calls to the hotline have concerned threats from prosecutors for interviewing witnesses. To properly do our job we must talk to or have someone else talk to witnesses. The better practice is to have an investigator talk and tape all interviews to keep you, the lawyer, from being accused of some impropriety. There are some very honorable prosecutors, but as we have seen, there are some who hide evidence and try to prevent justice.

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

When I drove from Houston to Huntsville to see a client, it was a tossup on who had the most billboard ads: lawyers or fried chicken places. Was it the smiling faces of lawyers and their staff, or someone eating a chicken leg? Seeing those billboards reminded me of the song “Girl on the Billboard.” “Girl on the Billboard” is a song about a truck driver who falls in love with a picture of a scantily clad woman he sees on a billboard along his daily freight route on Route 66.

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Sometimes I hear a new client badmouthing his previous lawyer where I am almost certain the lawyer believes he got his client the deal of the century. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. The key is making sure the beholder shares your same vision of what beauty is.

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Who says you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? In 1921, a group of chemists proved you can. Their handiwork is on display at MIT and the Smithsonian Institution. As criminal defense lawyers, it is our duty to at least try. It is not impossible. It just takes a little effort, ingenuity, creativity and human compassion.

Friday, June 29th, 2012

The past month has been busy with calls to the ethics hotline. Many calls have been regarding actions of judges and prosecutors and a few about fellow lawyers. Anytime you feel improper action is being taken by a judge or prosecutor, you are welcome to call the hotline. Lawyers are bad about just complaining and not taking any action. There are members of this organization who will help you take action. As I have mentioned before, no matter where you are, unless you do something besides talk about it, the bad behavior continues.

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Cowboy lawyer Gary Trichter is about to ride into the sunset like all cowboys do when the job is done. He has done his best to do the job he was elected to do. All the co-chairs have helped greatly in my quest to help our members. If you do not know them, you should reach out to them because you will never meet a finer group of people. TCDLA has made great progress this year, and the hotline has at times turned into a crisis hotline for some of our members having personal issues.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

We hope with Buck Files the State Bar will pay more attention to the criminal bar. There are over 3,000 members in the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, 600 members in the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, and many others in the local bar associations throughout Texas. HCCLA, under the leadership of Earl Musick, has taken action in many ways, including meeting with the Sunset Commission in Austin with Cowboy Lawyer Gary Trichter and lawyer Robb Fickman, Czar of Texas.

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I was forced to temporarily surrender control of my faculties under the lull of general anesthesia for back surgery. Sitting in a hospital reception room and getting pre-admitted for surgery is like a defendant being debriefed on a federal case. What about your family history? What has happened to you before? Do you know where you are now? What medicines do you currently take?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Historically, there have been fee disputes between lawyers and clients. Abraham Lincoln had a fee dispute and ended up suing for a $5,000 fee. Percy Foreman, whom I had the honor of talking to several times, and who with Allen Isbell co-wrote an article appearing in the HCCLA magazine, was sued several times over what clients claimed were excessive fees. Percy took money, stocks, bonds, cars, gas, motorcycles, furniture, and anything that was of value. He told me he would take everything a client had or could get for his fees.

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Growing up in West Texas, you might find that a case of whiskey around the holidays was better than a pot of gold. Abilene, in Taylor County, was a dry county at that time. From the courthouse to the junkyards, many a deal was made and the wheels were greased with a quart of whiskey. Most times it was unethical and sometimes illegal, but it happened a lot. All professions have a code of ethics that prohibit gift giving for personal gain. The holidays are here and you will see a lot of gift giving at the courthouse.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

We are getting an excellent response to the ethics hotline. Please be assured that no matter where you are in the great State of Texas, the ethics committee is here to help you. For those of you who practice in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth, there is a whole different legal world in some of the other 254 counties. Growing up in West Texas, I saw many injustices done to the underdogs in our society. It still happens. Once many years ago, one of my Houston clients had a son in trouble in Palo Pinto County and hired me to defend him.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Since the beginning of American history, there has been a fight for democracy and freedom. We, as Americans, have the Constitution and Bill of Rights to guide us. Thousands of men and women have died on the battlefield, or have been emotionally or physically wounded to defend our way of life. Criminal defense lawyers are in the law enforcement business, just as are police officers, deputies, federal agents, and all other members of the constabulary. Our job as criminal defense lawyers is to make sure the state and federal laws are followed.

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

The newly formed ethics hotline has been hot. We have received numerous calls, and the hotline has turned into a helpline for lawyers with ethical and procedural questions. All the co-chairs have been invaluable. Many lawyers never had training on how to handle a criminal case and how to get cases in an ethical manner. Times have changed and now lawyers run wild ads on television, which are reminiscent of Cal Worthington, the California car dealer who would appear on commercials riding elephants trying to sell cars.