Few Texas litigators will be able to top the war stories recently collected by Trey Apffel during the course of a single week. On Wednesday, May 22, the medical-malpractice case the League City solo was trying concluded with an agreed mistrial, because the presiding judge was indicted. The next day, Apffel was elected president of the State Bar of Texas in a heated runoff election.
Apffel says he started his work week on Monday, May 20, in the Galveston County courthouse, representing a plaintiff in a medical-malpractice jury trial in County Court-at-Law No. 3.
Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., presiding Judge Christopher Dupuy told the jury and the two lawyers in the case that he had a “scheduling conflict” and ended testimony for the day, advising that he’d let them know if the conflicts continued, Apffel says.
By Wednesday, May 22, Apffel says he and his opposing counsel figured Dupuy probably wouldn’t be back on the bench. Dupuy had been indicted on two felony and six misdemeanor criminal charges by a Galveston County grand jury that day.
“Word travels fast. I spoke with the defense counsel, and it wasn’t going to be pleasant for anyone,” Apffel says. “He [Dupuy] was being a super gentleman during the course of the trial, and he was not letting it interfere with his work in the case. So, when we approached, we asked the court to declare a mistrial so he could take care of personal matters,” Apffel says.
When Dupuy agreed, it was a relief to both lawyers, Apffel says, because they were preparing for a day filled with expert testimony -- something neither lawyer wanted to repeat later during a new trial.
It was a good call, because on Thursday, May 23, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued an order of suspension against Dupuy, taking him off the bench without pay effective immediately.
That same day, Apffel got word that he had won his race for president-elect.
Deanna Lovett, of counsel in Houston’s Ryan & Dawson who represents the defendant in the case, did not immediately return a call for comment. Dupuy also did not immediately return an email request for comment.
--- John Council