I had proved conclusively that the communications complained of were conditioned upon the qualification that our team of lawyers would not accept any cases directly from victims or their family members and would discuss potential employment only with the personal solicitors or lawyers of the victims or family members. The law then, and the law now, has established that such communications are protected by the First Amendment. I could never get the trial judge, or the Texas appellate courts, to address the First Amendment issue. That is why, as explained to Ms. Flood, I have always been so bitter about the great travesty of justice that occurred when I was suspended in 1989 for unconstitutional reasons.

Most important, and the main reason I am particularly disturbed by the inaccurate statement quoted above, is that I have never been accused by the State Bar, by an individual or by anyone -- client or otherwise -- of uninvited, in-person solicitation of a potential client. The statement contained in this article states precisely otherwise and is therefore inaccurate in a very damaging way.

3. The third inaccuracy is the statement that I have "repeatedly had [my] law license suspended for case running."

In 1987 I settled with the State Bar for a 90-day suspension that was part of a three-year probationary period. Before the 90-day period of actual suspension took place, the Bar moved to revoke the probation in the proceedings discussed above. There was only one period of suspension ever served by me, and that was the three-year suspension that resulted from the revocation. To say that I have been "repeatedly suspended" is absolutely and totally inaccurate, and to say that I have ever been "suspended for case running" is even more inaccurate and unfair. As explained above, I was suspended not for "case running" but for an alleged violation of the "advertising rules."

In closing, you may wonder why these corrections are so important to me. They are important because the press in Texas has repeatedly made statements and innuendoes that are entirely misleading about me. The whole controversy about the so-called "solicitation of cases" is based upon the contention of the State Bar that the manner in which we have used investigators and personnel to follow up on letters sent pursuant to the protection allowed by the Shapero cases violates the rules against solicitation.

I contend that such follow-up efforts are protected by the First Amendment -- particularly where, as in the USAir crash, we had already been employed in a case, and the primary efforts of the personnel were to gather information, further the investigation and, incidentally, determine if any of the potential plaintiffs indicated they had received Mr. O'Quinn's letter and were interested in discussing potential employment, then to arrange for an appointment between the potential client and one of the lawyer members of our team. But the effect of these inaccurate statements is to paint an entirely different picture -- that I am an "ambulance chaser" who engages in in-person solicitation. I request that this letter be printed so that the record can be set straight. I am entitled to at least that much.

Benton Musslewhite

Editor's reply: Mr. Musslewhite told Mary Flood that private investigator Bob Loving worked with Musslewhite on some occasions, not for Musslewhite, as stated in "O'Quinn Unzipped." Otherwise, the Press stands by the story.

Wild Pickle
Setting aside the astute observation of one Jed Clampett, who must have been thinking of Paula Tholen when he uttered the line about someone being "one pickle shy of a barrel," lions, or any other big cats, do not belong in cages in Manvel, Texas ["The Lion in Manvel," by Randall Patterson, January 30]. They belong in their natural habitat. Female lions are pack animals who hunt down food for the pride to which they belong. To defang and declaw any cat, let alone one from the big cat family, shows a lack of compassion for these mammals. Not that I would actually expect any common sense or compassion from a woman who thought it humorous when her pet snake used the nearest baby for a heating pad. I humbly suggest that her next conquest of all things wild should be to go out and get a great white shark and put it in a really big aquarium. The sad thing is that I'm willing to bet that she doesn't think that's far-fetched.

James Dean
via Internet

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