A Galveston attorney filed a criminal complaint against county judge candidate Lonnie Cox, claiming that Cox, who is an administrative judge, received free and discounted legal services.
In his complaint, Greg Enos also asserts that Cox received his discounted and free legal help from attorney Mark Stevens when Stevens had cases before Cox.
The law states that judges cannot “accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows is interested,” according to Enos.
Cox said that Enos’ charges were “baseless and frivolous” as well as “politically motivated.”
Enos states that because Stevens provided Cox legal services for $66 per hour instead of his normal rate $150 per hour, that constitutes providing a benefit to the judge.
It appears that Mr. Stevens provided free and discounted legal services to Judge Cox at a time when Mr. Stevens was representing clients before Judge Cox, was being appointed by Judge Cox to represent indigent criminal defendants and was having his fee vouchers approved by Judge Cox.
See the full complaint here:
“If Mark Stevens provided Judge Cox an $84 per hour discount, that is clearly a ‘benefit’ as defined in this criminal statute,” Enos wrote. Enos estimated that Cox’s discounted legal services saved the judge more than $20,000.
Enos also points to other issues in his complaint, such as Cox issuing a large judgement to Stevens in a civil case.
Enos did not return a request for comment.
Cox said he believes Enos does not know the law that he is citing.
“I just think Enos does not have the slightest idea on what the law is on any of these subjects,” Cox said. “And let’s be candid about it. He’s a family lawyer. I’m board certified in criminal law, I was in the DA’s office for 10 years, I’ve been a trial judge for 14 years. I’ve tried more criminal cases in Galveston County than any other attorney in Galveston County.”
Cox said he was unaware of any free services he received from Stevens.
In addition: “None of Mark Stevens’ services benefited me personally,” he said. “He represented me in my official capacity as a judge in Galveston County. I had nothing to personally gain from any of the litigation.”
See Cox’s full response here:
As far as the price for Stevens’ services?
“We negotiated that up front,” Cox said. “A lawyer can charge whatever he wants.”
Nor did he hand over any settlement to Stevens, he said.
Cox also noted that in the statute that Enos cites about ‘accepting any benefit’ does not include professional service agreements — such as attorneys fees.
“I can’t see how he has a glimmer of a legitimate concept,” Cox said.
The complaint was sent to the Galveston County District Attorney in January, who then sent it to the Attorney General’s Office to see what action should be taken.
“I don’t know if the AG will do anything about it,” Cox said. “They get a lot of these political complaints right around campaign time. Everybody files on everybody.”
Cox faces off against incumbent County Judge Mark Henry in the March 6 Republican primary.
Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.