In a stern rebuke, a judge ordered maverick lawyer Phil Ross and his clients to pay more than $220,000 in sanctions for their serial misconduct during an ongoing guardianship case involving Charlie Thrash, a mentally incapacitated millionaire.
In handing down the hefty penalty, one of the largest in courthouse memory, Bexar County Probate Court Judge Oscar Kazen ruled that Ross and his clients, Laura and Brittany Martinez, had “designed and carried out a vexatious litigation campaign … against Thrash, his property, the guardians and the Court.”
In addition, the judge said, the conduct of Ross and the Martinezes was “intentional, knowing and outrageous.”
The 35-page order cited dozens of specific acts of misconduct. Among the more serious
Ross assisted in the improper marriage of Thrash and his girlfriend Martinez, which he knew was forbidden by the court because of Thrash’s mental incapacity. The marriage was soon annulled by Kazen.
Ross also was involved in a improper adoption by Thrash of Martinez’s two adult children, which he knew was forbidden, also dishonestly representing himself as Thrash’s lawyer, when he was not. The adoptions were also undone.
Ross improperly interfered with Tonya Barina, the guardian of Thrash’s estate, by attempting to divert Thrash’s Social Security benefits from her.
Ross filed a second recusal motion against Judge Kazen that he knew was groundless, solely “for the purpose of harassment” and to “avoid a hearing on the motion for sanctions.”
Kazen also imposed additional punitive financial sanctions of $2,500 against Laura Martinez and $1,500 against her daughter Brittany.
He ordered all the money be paid to Thrash’s two guardians and his estate.
Ross, who claimed nothing he has done harmed Thrash, said the sanctions just raise more questions about the case.
“How did the judge allow the guardians’ lawyers to bill more than a quarter-million dollars to Charlie’s estate trying to stop his common-law wife Laura and Brittany from trying to help him restore his capacity and to remove the guardians?” he asked.