Friday, July 30, 2010

frank mann - source of the Nikki Araguz leaks

Yet another twist has come to light about the two lawsuits against Nikki Araguz. Apparently, Frank Mann, the attorney for Heather Delgado, the ex-wife of Nikki Araguz's late husband in the child custody lawsuit against Nikki and her late husband, had previously represented Nikki Araguz and Emilio Mata, Nikki's first husband, during a 2002 bankruptcy case. It is surely a violation of judicial ethics rules for Frank Mann to represent Tom Araguz's ex-wife, Heather Delgado, since his previous representative involvement with Nikki Araguz and Emilio Mata creates a direct conflict of interest.It appears that Nikki Araguz may have discussed her medical history with Frank Mann under attorney client privilege, and that Frank Mann has violated that privilege and disclosed that confidential medical information to Heather Delgado in the child custody case and in an email broadcast Frank Mann sent to friends of his about Nikki Araguz during her campaign for mayor of Wharton, TX. This explains how Heather Delgado became aware that Nikki Araguz is a transsexual woman, and it also explains the timing of Heather Delgado's knowledge of this information.

Texas state bar records show that Frank Mann has been repeatedly sanctioned for ethics violations in the past, and that his license to practice law has been temporarily suspended on multiple occasions. It is curious that Nikki Araguz and her late husband Thomas Araguz didn't know enough about the legal system to realize that Frank Mann shouldn't be representing a client in opposition to here after Frank Mann had already represented her, and that their attorney doesn't seem to have been aware either. In addition, Frank Mann had an ethical duty to refrain from representing Heather Delgado, Simona Longoria, or anyone for that matter, in any lawsuit against Nikki Araguz. The Houston Press describes Frank Mann's past involvement with the Texas State Bar Association regarding his ethics violations as follows:
It's not Mann's first dance with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel: in 1990, Mann agreed to a fully probated 36-month suspension for "misrepresentations of fact concerning the dates of his hospitalization for alcohol and substance abuse in an affidavit offered in support of a motion to retain." (The suspension was stayed; he was allowed to actively practice, but was placed on probation.) The Office of Disciplinary Counsel also ruled that, in one case, Mann "assigned away 100 percent of any attorney's fees" and then "intervened in the pending lawsuit, claiming an interest in attorney's fees."

In 1997, Mann was suspended for five and a half years and was not eligible to practice for the first 36 months. In that case, among other things, the Counsel found that Mann's paralegal "affixed [a] client's signature from a prior document to a proposed modification, without the client's consent." Mann wasn't in the office at the time, but he was "responsible supervision and instruction of his staff and for ensuring that his staff follows the law and the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct."

The newspaper article above reveals that attorneys for Nikki Araguz have already filed a complaint with the Texas State Bar Association. However, at first the Texas State Bar Association dismissed the complaint, and has only re-opened its investigation now that Frank Mann, Heather Delgado, Nikki Araguz, et al, are headline news all across Texas. That doesn't speak very well of the Texas State Bar Association, which has allowed Frank Mann to continue practicing law despite his repeated demonstration of a lack of respect for the rules of ethical conduct that attorneys are required by law to follow. The Texas State Bar Assocation web site contains all the details about its disciplinary actions against Frank Mann:

Frank E. Mann III
6750 West Loop Souoth #120
Bellaire, TX 77401
License Number: 12924250
Texas State Bar Profile of Frank E. Mann III

Although the attorney for Nikki Araguz in the child custody lawsuit could surely file a motion with the court in that case to have Frank Mann removed as attorney for the ex-wife Heather Delgado, the damage is already done. Even though Frank Mann may have committed a conflict of interest violation, may have violated his attorney/client privilege with Nikki Araguz, and the Texas Bar Association could go after him, Frank Mann appears to have already succeeded in his role as the Judas whose unlawful disclosures instigated the legal firestorm that now surrounds Nikki Araguz.

Life for transsexual people seems truly perilous when transsexual people can't even depend on attorney/client privilege. It turns out that Frank Mann was secretly quite transphobic, and also tried to leak his privileged knowledge of Nikki Araguz's medical history before the election for Mayor Wharton, TX in May 2010, in which Nikki Araguz was a candidate. Nikki Araguz lost that election anyway, even though the information doesn't appear to have been made public at the time, and Nikki Araguz appears to have been ineligible to run for public office anyway, because she has a felony conviction on her criminal record. However, the most important revelation here is that Frank Mann appears to be someone who has no business practicing law, and is someone who may be primarily responsible for creating the leaks that have stirred up the mess that currently surrounds Nikki Araguz's life.

The twists and turns in the Nikki Araguz lawsuits just seem to keep on coming. It is hard to imagine what life must be like right now for Nikki Araguz, with nearly every aspect of her life virtually exploding around her. It seems like the average person would need anti-anxiety medication just to cope and be able to sleep at night.


  1. Point of clarification... It's my understanding that Nikki was never convicted of a felony. It's my understanding that after reviewing the issue, the court issued a deferred adjudication and the charges were dismissed. In order for her to be a felon, wouldn't she need to have been convicted of a felony?

  2. Here is a summary list of Nikki's criminal history, which includes two felonies, based on the newspaper article below:

    1992 - Misdemeanor Theft $200-$750 - Harris County, TX
    1994 - DWI - one year probation
    1995 - Misdemeanor Theft $20-$500 - one year probation
    2000 - Felony Theft $1,500-$20,000 - three years probation
    2005 - DWI - three days jail
    2008 - Felony Cocaine Possession - two year deferred adjudication

    Based on her felony theft conviction in 2000, it seems like Nikki Araguz would not have been eligible to run for Mayor in 2010. The Texas attorney general's office would probably be the best source on whether her 2008 guilty plea would also disqualify Nikki from running for office as well.