SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A visiting judge issued an order to quash the San Augustine County grand jury indictment of a man accused of identifying himself as an attorney-at-law in violation of a direct order from the Texas Supreme Court Wednesday.
The San Augustine County grand jury indicted Edward Allen Malone in August of 2016 for allegedly holding himself out as a lawyer, which is a third-degree felony. Malone's license to practice law in Texas was taken away from him in June of 2016.
San Augustine County District Attorney Kevin Dutton confirmed that the indictment had been quashed, or rejected Wednesday afternoon. Visiting Judge Joe Ned Dean signed the order to quash the indictment Wednesday.
Dutton said that his office is currently looking into whether any post-order actions can be taken against Malone. He said they are going to check to see if the state can appeal the judge's decision.
Dutton said his office is not ruling out taking the case back to a grand jury.
Among the documents Malone e-mailed to East Texas News Wednesday was a copy of his motion to quash the indictment. In the motion, Malone argued that the grand jury indictment "violates his rights to receive fair and particularized notice of the charges against him under Texas law, the Texas Constitution, and the Constitution of the United States."
Malone quoted the text of the indictment in his motion, stating "That the indictment in this case alleges that 'Edward Allen Malone … on or about the 1st of July, A.D. 2016 … with the intent to obtain an economic benefit for himself, hold himself as a lawyer, to wit: by stating in the local paper that he was a defense attorney in San Augustine, Texas, and the defendant was not then and there in good standing with the State Bar of Texas and the State Bar [sic] of Virginia, where defendant was licensed to practice law."
The second ground of the motion stated that according to Texas law, a person commits the offense if he or she presents himself or herself as lawyer "unless he or she is currently licensed to practice law in this state, another state, or a foreign country and is in good standing with the State Bar of Texas and the state bar or licensing authority of any and all other states and foreign countries where licensed."
Further in the motion, Malone argued that the indictment does not clearly state which state bar he wasn't in good standing with and "[t]hat a person reading the indictment could reasonably conclude that the undersigned was allegedly not in good standing with neither Virginia nor Texas."
In the motion, Malone also contended that a person reading the indictment "could reasonably conclude" that the grand jury believed that he was required to be in good standing with both the state bars of Virginia and Texas "in order to hold himself out as a lawyer."
Later in the motion, Malone stated that he gave away "free bottled water, soft drinks cupcakes, and refreshments" at an event where the Declaration of Independence was read and argued that "stating in the local paper that one is a 'defense attorney in San Augustine, Texas' is not holding one's self out to be a lawyer."
Then Malone launched into a lengthy explanation of where the phrase "holding out" came from. He said that, in the past, Texas courts have defined the phrase within the context of establishing common-law marriage.
In all, Malone's motion listed 62 grounds for the indictment to be quashed.
Malone was booked into the San Augustine County Jail shortly after he was indicted.
According to documentation from the Texas Supreme Court, which suspended his license on June 7, 2016, Malone had lied about past discipline from the Virginia State Bar.
Malone is prohibited from the practice of law in the State of Texas, according to the court document. This includes holding himself out as an attorney at law, performing legal services for others, giving legal advice to others, accepting any fee directly or indirectly for legal services, appearing as counsel or in any representative capacity in any proceeding in any Texas court or before any Texas administrative body whether state, county, municipal, or other, or holding himself out to others or using his name in any manner in conjunction with the designation "attorney-at-law," "counsel-at -law," or "lawyer."
The court alleged that Malone filed a sworn application for admission without examination on June 5, 2013. The court stated Malone did not disclose previous discipline from the Virginia State Bar. On April 30, 2015, Malone was licensed to practice law in Texas.
In their argument, the court said Malone was licensed in Virginia on October 14, 1999 but was not in good standing and had been administratively suspended from practice in October 2010 and March 2011 and his license was forfeited in March of 2013.
In the packet provided by the Texas Supreme Court, Malone responded and deemed it an "unconstitutional order" by the court.
In his motion to vacate. Malone listed 39 points to his arguments. Those included claims that the board of Law Examiners is all white and that the adjudication of his matter by an all-white panel followed by and all-white board was a violation of his equal protection and due process rights.