Saturday, August 21, 2010

Frank Mann - An Ethically Challenged Bigot

Editorial Commentary

Unscrupulous attorneys have long been the tantalizing subject of fictional stories about lawyers who would do anything they think they can get away with, to get ahead and generate fees for themselves at any cost, including a proverbial pound of flesh. When real life exposes one of these sorts of cretins, the insidiousness of their evil takes on both personal and socially repugnant dimensions. Such miscreants also expose incompetent if not corrupt governmental institutions around them. One such example is Frank E. Mann III, whose unethical background has already been the subject of an article on this site. That the Texas State Bar Association allows him to continue practicing law, implies that the Bar Association in Texas is either as incompetent or as corrupt an institution, and one that has failed to fulfill its duty to the people of Texas it is supposed to serve, as Frank Mann appears to be.

Cristan Williams
The inspiration for this missive about Mr. Frank Mann, is a telephone call he made to Cristan Williams, the beautiful, articulate, and highly representative, executive director of the Houston Transgender Center. Cristan Williams has been the force behind the support page setup for Nikki Araguz. She has also been creating online videos containing her commentary about the ongoing proceedings, and she has appeared on television to discuss the issue of marriage legality for transsexual and intersex people. Since Texas law allows any party to a telephone conversation to record it, Cristan Williams recorded their conversation when Frank Mann telephoned her. She has also published the recording, with commentary, in a video on Frank Mann's ostensible purpose for telephoning Ms. Williams was to extend an Olive Branch (his own words). Such a telephone call surely implies that he has become aware that newspapers, television media, and the blogosphere, have all been exposing the negative truth about who he is, about his ongoing unethical activities, and the rest of his apparently incorrigible behavior. Based on the contents of his telephone call with Cristan Williams, Mr. Mann has the naive notion that smooth and friendly sounding talk might overcome the reprehensible nature of his actions and his associations. Frank Mann's actions have made it clear that he is a bigot, that he has neither ethics nor conscience, that he is part of the lawsuit against Nikki Araguz primarily in the interest of his own personal greed, and that he has the grandiose notion that his cruel and malicious lawsuit against Nikki Araguz will be the case of his career.

Frank E. Mann III
A brief review of Frank Mann's history might help provide some context for making judgments about his character. Frank Mann has twice been investigated by and sanctioned by the Texas State Bar Association. In both cases his license to practice law was suspended, once for a period of years, and further extended by periods of probation once the Bar Association allowed him to practice again. Nikki Araguz made the unfortunate and fateful mistake in 2002 of hiring Mr. Mann to represent her in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. During his representation of Nikki Araguz, she disclosed confidential information to him about her medical past and apparently even gave him a copy of her first birth certificate, all under attorney/client privilege. Heather Delgado, the ex-wife of Nikki's second husband Thomas, happened upon Frank Mann when she needed an attorney to represent her in a child custody dispute against Nikki and Thomas Araguz. It was both illegal and unethical for Frank Mann to represent Heather Delgado, or anyone else as an adversary to Nikki Araguz in a legal matter, but Frank Mann did so anyway. This is called a direct conflict of interest. In most states, Frank Mann would have been disbarred for doing so, but apparently not in Texas. Frank Mann used his knowledge of confidential information about Nikki Araguz to take advantage of and humiliate Nikki and Thomas Araguz during that dispute and depositions they gave during it. While Frank Mann was representing Heather Delgado against Nikki and Thomas Araguz in the child custody dispute, Nikki Araguz decided to run for mayor of Wharton, Texas. Frank Mann then sent a broadcast email to a large group of his friends and colleagues that contains information which violates the attorney/client privilege he owes Nikki Araguz. Mr. Mann's bigoted email poked fun at Nikki Araguz, exposed her medical past, and disclosed the possibility that she may not have been eligible to run for office because of a previous criminal conviction. Once again, in just about any state other than Texas, Frank Mann would have been disbarred for a stunt like that.

Long after Nikki Araguz should have known that Frank Mann had no business being involved in a lawsuit against her, the attorneys representing her filed a complaint with the Texas State Bar Association about Mr. Mann's behavior. At first the Texas State Bar Association dismissed the complaint. Only after Frank Mann, Nikki Araguz, Heeather Delgado, Simona Longoria, et al, became national news, did the Texas State Bar Assocation decide to take a closer look at the complaint against him. Frank Mann is currently under investigation by the Texas State Bar Association with regard to the numerous ethical violations listed above. However, Frank Mann continues to represent a party adverse to Nikki Araguz, in clear violation of ethical rules. In fact, the telephone call Frank Mann made to Cristan Wiliams is right at the edge of another ethical violation. An attorney is not allowed to engage in ex-parte (without the adverse attorney present) communication with an adverse party to a case. Although Cristan Williams isn't the actual adverse party, there are clear implications that Frank Mann intended to communicate his propaganda indirectly to Nikki Araguz through Cristan Williams. If not a direct ethical violation, Frank Mann's telephone call to Cristan Williams certainly seems to violate the spirit of the ethical rules he swore to uphold upon becoming an attorney.

With the foregoing review of Frank Mann's behavior as context, the contents of Frank Mann's conversation with Cristan Williams demonstrates just how much of an unprincipled hypocrite he is. There isn't any way to separate Mr. Mann's representation of someone in a case that disrespects the memory of the father of the boys he represents, from the implications such representation has about Frank Mann's own lack of character. Every time Frank Mann files a motion that mischaracterizes the marriage between Thomas Araguz and Nikki Araguz as same-sex, he isn't just taking an easy pot shot at Nikki Araguz, his actions dishonor Thomas Araguz and his sons as well. There isn't any way for Frank Mann to separate his greed from his involvement in the case either, since he and the other attorneys had an ethical duty to point out to Heather Delgado and Simona Longoria, that Thomas Araguz's boys would end up with about the same amount of money with or without the lawsuit, and by refraining to litigate such a matter, they would protect the memory of the boy's father and socially shield the boys from the bigoted Texas culture that surrounds them.

There isn't any way Mr. Mann can claim he is not a bigot when the core of his case requires him to argue before a court of law that somehow intersex and transsexual people should not be afforded constitutional equal protection and due process in their right to marry someone of the opposite genital sex, even if they may have some theoretical genetic similarity of sex chromosomes with their marrying partner. Such an imposition of law defies practicality and pragmatic common sense. It is a notion so preposterous that Texas has only now begun to understand that in so doing, it has actually legalized the very thing it purported to outlaw with the Littleton v. Prange ruling. What Littleton has legalized in Texas, is hundreds of transsexual and intersex people who have married partners of the same genital sex because the law there is based on the theoretical and presumed sex chromosomes of the marrying couple, without ever even testing them for verification. The resulting bureaucratic confusion at county offices which provide marriage licenses in Texas that has followed from such blind bigotry, threatens to deny the rights of intersex and transsexual people not just in Texas, but potentially throughout the United States. By serving as a plaintiff's attorney in a rapacious lawsuit whose purpose is to confirm such bigotry, Frank Mann demonstrates to the world by his actions, no matter what words he may use to provide an excuse for them, that he is a bigot. Mr. Mann's ego may be bolstered now by his involvement with such a case, but in a more enlightened future reading of the history he may be creating, he will be properly labeled as one of the bigots who made such institutionalized bigotry possible.

If Frank Mann were actually an honest, conscientious, or ethical person, he and the other attorneys representing Heather Delgado and Simona Longoria in the supposed interest of Trevor and Tyler Araguz, would never have filed such a lawsuit to begin with. It seems equally important to remember that without Frank Mann's violation of attorney/client privilege, Heather Delgado et al, may never have discovered the information about Nikki Araguz's medical history that fanned the flames of the child custody case and instigated the present probate case.  Frank Mann is one of three attorneys who knew full well that when it comes to most probate lawsuits, the only people who generally win are the attorneys. While their unscrupulous gains are purely financial, they will leave scorched earth behind them, and a broken family in their wakes. While Frank Mann got fake friendly on the telephone with Cristan Williams, explaining that Thomas Araguz's sons Trevor and Tyler would be attending private school in the hope that may help protect them from playground bullying, such efforts are naive recompense, a vain effort to bandage the gaping emotional wounds those two boys will likely battle for many years to come. In the same conversation, Frank Mann also noted that his potential involvement with Cristan Williams might last for years, without any acknowledgement of the benefits to the children that a settlement now might provide: for them, for Nikki Araguz, and potentially for thousands of intersex and transsexual people who could be directly impacted by a negative appeals court ruling in such a case. Shame on all three attorneys: Frank Mann, Edward Burwell, and Chad Ellis; for such blatant hypocrisy and greed. The pound of flesh they hope to excise from Nikki Araguz does not come without a drop of blood, but with copious quantities of it; from Thomas Araguz, from his sons Trevor and Tyler, from Nikki Araguz his chosen wife, and potentially from thousands of intersex and transsexual people everywhere, no matter how their chromosomes may be configured.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article! Please keep it up!

    Frank Mann acknowledged that conversation that this was a "career making" case for him. He then tried to make that statement not sound so deplorable by adding that it is also a career making case for Phyllis Frye.

    Phyllis needs no such career making case. Phyllis is the grandmother of the Texas transgender community. Comparing his life with the life of a true civil rights hero is disgusting. 30 years ago she made it legal for transgender people to walk out of their homes. She also made it legal for women to wear pants without being arrested.

    Frank, how many marches on Washington how you been involved in? How many times have you braved arrest and crooked cops of the South (who've jailed and murdered your friends) in an effort to win equal protection of all American citizens? Frank Mann, the difference between you and Phyllis is that she's a phoenix and your just a leach.

    You're using this case to bolster your lackluster carrier while everyone else is in this case to preserve their civil rights. Lets set the record straight. In this case...

    You're the buss driver; the trans community is Rosa Parks.

    You're the Klan; we're the oppressed community.

    While you might think this case will make your career in the same way that previous bigots thought they were on the right side of history, you will be remembered as nothing more than a blight... a stain upon the mantel of the American ideal. You, sir, will be forever remembered as the bigot who, in their blind ignorance and hubris, destroyed a widow's wife and tried to steal the civil rights away from an entire community.