A few days after finding out his pro-bono services were being terminated by a Calvert nonprofit organization, Ty Clevenger received a copy of a letter to the Robertson County District Attorney from another lawyer asking Clevenger be investigated for barratry.
The letter was written by James “Jimmie” McCullough, a Robertson County attorney and law partner to Rusty Russ, who is representing John Paschall, the former Robertson County district attorney, in the estate suit from which Clevenger was recently dismissed.
Coty Siegert, the current Robertson County district attorney, said his office will not be investigating the allegations.
“We received and reviewed the letter from James McCullough, whose firm is defending John Paschall in Mr. Clevenger’s lawsuit,” Siegert said. “In applying the elements of barratry to the facts alleged by Mr. McCullough, we don’t believe there is sufficient evidence to file a criminal case against Mr. Clevenger.”
Clevenger originally filed a lawsuit against Paschall in June 2011 claiming he’d misappropriated funds as the executor of the trust of Mariam Oscar, a deceased Calvert woman. In June 2013, he filed a fourth amended petition against Paschall naming Calvert Historical Foundation as the plaintiff.
In May, the man who was serving as president of the foundation was voted out of his position, and a few weeks later a vote was taken to terminate Clevenger, according to a letter from the foundation’s new president, Jennifer Caudle, to Clevenger. In the letter, Caudle claimed the former president had misled and misinformed the organization and members were unaware that the foundation was the plaintiff in the case.
The letter written by McCullough stems from a June 4 hearing concerning the Oscar case when attorneys were arguing a motion filed by Clevenger asking he be reimbursed for attorney fees that he intended to give to the foundation. Although he agreed to take the suit pro bono, Clevenger argued the defense had purposefully been delaying the discovery process of the case, which he said was costing him unnecessary work and travel time.
In McCullough’s letter to Robertson County District Attorney Coty Siegert, McCullough asserted Clevenger had committed barratry by soliciting clients for a lawsuit and then seeking attorney fees for economic benefit.
McCullough stated that even though Clevenger intended on giving the money to the foundation, he was still acting illegally because attorneys cannot split fees with non-attorneys.
Clevenger quickly dismissed McCullough’s assertions and told District Judge H.D. Black in an email that “this is the second time Mr. Russ and Mr. McCullough have tried to frame me with criminal charges in order to shut down a civil litigation.”
He was referring to a 2009 matter when Clevenger said Paschall filed an affidavit to have a special prosecutor appointed to present a grand jury with accusations of barratry against Clevenger for filing a lawsuit on behalf of clients who didn’t ask him to do so.