A Catch-22 if you want lawyer’s work reviewed

Initially, the cost of investigating comes from estates of those who were allegedly harmed

Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com)
June 25, 2007
Houston Chronicle (TX)

Probate courts do have an internal mechanism for reviewing the work of court-appointed lawyers.

However, the cost of investigating, at least initially, comes from personal estates — the people allegedly harmed in the first place.

Houston lawyer Sheila Latham was a top-paid guardian in Harris County until her accounting got sloppy.

A lawyer appointed by Probate Judge Mike Wood to review her work discovered Latham had taken about $72,000 from a bedbound and nonresponsive elderly man, powerless to complain. She cashed her ward’s CD and put the money in her greeting-card business, records show.

Latham eventually was convicted of theft and misapplication of fiduciary property and lost her law license. She could not be reached for comment for this report.

In 2004, after six years, attorneys managed to obtain a $97,000 settlement for the elderly man’s estate.

By then, the man was dead.