More than 13 months have passed since video of a white Fort Worth cop bullying a black mother during a service call went viral. The fallout continues. This week, a Texas legal group has accused the black activist attorney representing the mother, Jacqueline Craig, of practicing law without a license. S. Lee Merritt says Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson prompted the complaint in a tit-for-tat move.
In a statement sent to WFAA, Merritt said he called for Wilson to level criminal charges against Officer William Martin –– who received a 10-day suspension –– and a neighbor who allegedly assaulted Craig’s young son for littering. Instead, Wilson turned her sights on Merritt, he said.
The Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, a group appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas, filed the claim accusing Merritt of engaging in “unauthorized practice of law.” The group’s website says in cases such as this, a hearing will be set. Merritt maust appear in district court to defend himself against the claim.
Merritt, who moved to Texas from Pennsylvania several years ago, said he is licensed to practice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Texas, however, he is licensed in federal court only. He works with other attorneys who are licensed in Texas when representing local clients in state courts, he said.
Wilson made a “false claim” against him, he said.
“The claims levied against me are without merit and have been twice dismissed by previous judicial bodies in Dallas County and before the State Bar’s Ethics Committee,” Merritt said. “The UPLC finally found a receptive platform for the claim in the same jurisdiction where Sharen Wilson now serves as district attorney.”
A spokesperson for Wilson said the district attorney had no comment. On Tuesday afternoon, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the committee filed a motion to withdraw its complaint since it planned to re-file the case in Collin County, where Merritt’s office is located.
So, 13 months later, let’s tally up the various shoes that have dropped.
Martin appealed his suspension, lost, and is back at work.
Craig has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that her constitutional rights were violated.
Two black police officials were demoted after allegedly leaking bodycam video of the arrest. Those officers, in turn, have sued the city seeking reinstatement and back pay. One of them – Abdul Pridgen – left the department after being hired as police chief of Seaside, California, in December.
Can’t we all just get along?