Lawyer’s ID called mistake

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 19B

A lawyer who works with Wilmer-Hutchins attorney James Belt said she is to blame for a legal filing in which Mr. Belt’s name is attached to the state lawyer identification number of a dead man.

“It was a completely honest mistake,” said Thelma Clardy, a DeSoto City Council member who does legal work as a subcontractor to Mr. Belt. “There was no intention on Mr. Belt’s part or my part to commit any misdemeanor.”

A Dallas Morning News story Saturday detailed a series of disciplinary problems faced by Mr. Belt, chief attorney for the Wilmer-Hutchins school district. His law license has been suspended twice in the last three years.

A state comptroller’s report two years ago recommended that the district replace him because he charged the district too much money and he gave poor legal advice to the school board.

While Mr. Belt’s license was suspended last year, he was allowed to continue practicing law as long as he met certain conditions. In November, while he was under suspension, Mr. Belt’s name appeared on a court filing with the state bar number of O.E. Threlkeld, a Seguin lawyer who died in 1984.

Ms. Clardy said Saturday that she was responsible for the error. Ms. Clardy, who is co-counsel on the sexual harassment case in which the motion was filed, said she was rushed in writing the motion and tentatively filled in Mr. Threlkeld’s bar number, 20000000, instead of Mr. Belt’s.

“I was trying to get the pleadings filed, and I forgot to go back and put his actual bar card number,” she said. “It was a mistake.”

Ms. Clardy said that the mistaken bar number had been the subject of a grievance to the State Bar of Texas earlier this year and that the grievance had been dismissed. Representatives of the bar association were not available for comment Saturday.