An attorney who lied to a Smith County judge in September about his mother being dead so that the court would delay a plea hearing for his client may soon be on his way to jail.
Retired senior judge Joe Clayton, in a hearing this afternoon, signed papers authorized authorities to arrest Houston-based lawyer Joel Mallory Jr. after he failed to appear with his attorney for a scheduled contempt of court hearing. Clayton set Mallory’s bond for $10,000 in cash, which means the attorney will have to pay that amount to be released from jail, Clayton said in court.
Mallory represented Corey Darnell Webb, 18, after Webb pleaded guilty to shooting Tony Walker, an intake worker at the Smith County Juvenile Attention Center in July 2010. Smith County 7th District Judge Kerry Russell had originally presided over the Webb case, but had asked that Judge John Ovard, an administrative judge in Dallas, appoint an outside judge to hear the contempt case. Ovard appointed Clayton, who held the hearing in a smaller courtroom adjacent to the 7th District Court.
“We’ve given him (Mallory) every chance,” Clayton said from the bench.
The Webb family hired Mallory, whose practice is in Houston, to represent Webb. Clayton said in court that authorities will arrest Mallory wherever the attorney is, jail him, and then bring him back to Smith County.
The Smith County District Attorney's Office investigated after Mallory asked the judge for a delay and learned Mallory's mother had in fact died Sept. 22 rather than Sept. 16. Mallory then asked for the Smith County District Attorney’s Office to recuse itself from his case. Clayton then appointed Rick Hagan, a Longview-based attorney, to serve as a special prosecutor in the Mallory contempt case.
“I can’t understand why his (Mallory’s) attorney isn’t even here,” Hagan said to Clayton. Rosalind Kelly of Dallas had told the court she planned to withdraw, but Clayton said until he signs Kelly’s motion to withdraw that she is still considered to be the attorney of record in the Mallory case. Hagan’s attempts to reach Kelly by phone were unsuccessful.
Russell sentenced Webb to 50 years in prison on Dec. 14. Before he was sentenced, Webb tried to withdraw his guilty plea, changed defense attorneys and urinated in a courtroom trash can as his trial was set to begin.
Russell said after the Webb sentencing, that he would refer the record of the lawyer's conduct to Judge John Ovard, an administrative judge in Dallas, who was going to arrange a contempt hearing and make a decision on any possible penalties for Mallory.
"There are legal sanctions for that type of thing," Russell said in October, referring to the misinformation Mallory provided about his mother.
The 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler issued an opinion on Monday saying that contempt charges against Mallory would not be dismissed. Judge Joe Clayton, in February had found Mallory to be in contempt of court because he did not show for the hearing. Mallory had filed a petition asking for dismissal of the contempt charges.