Don’t Mess with Texas: Jerk Lawyer Who Threatened To Call ICE On Women Speaking Spanish Gets Censured
September 23, 2022
If you’re going to be an asshole, you might as well have some balls to go with it. Case in point: Texas lawyer Aaron Peterson, sent out one of the most racist and threatening tweets you’ll ever see.
Peterson, who is not running for POTUS anytime soon, threatened to call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on Spanish-speaking women at a restaurant where he was having lunch at in Austin. Naturally, this did not sit well with Austin’s huge Latino population and several complaints were filed against him with the State Bar of Texas.
The jerk lawyer who made headlines
This week, a Texas lawyer in Houston lost his job after he threatened to call immigration authorities on two women speaking Spanish. Michael P. Mitra, 54, was listening to the conversation while at a table at Pappasito’s when he said The only thing I can assume is that they’re not legal.
He then called the police and started videotaping the two women, who were sitting nearby. I heard him say that they should be careful because they weren’t in the United States anymore, Rosa Arrendondo recalled. I felt really bad.
Mitra insisted on recording them for 45 minutes because of their perceived lack of English skills and what he called obvious hostility towards him.
The jerk lawyer’s history of problematic statements
Smith has a history of making racial comments and has not shown remorse for the harm he causes. For example, he argued that teaching children about Islam were an act of aggression against Christianity because Islam is a false religion that destroys countries and forces Christians to convert or die. When asked about this statement in later interviews, Smith showed no shame,
stating that Christians are being killed every day and so we can’t appease them. He also said that if he saw a Muslim person walking toward him on the street, he would turn around and walk the other way. In addition to denying well-established religious beliefs, Smith engages in unwarranted racial remarks by arguing that stores should refuse service to Black people who they feel have been disrespectful towards store staff or other customers.
The jerk lawyer’s actions were condemned by his party
In a letter sent to Avelica-Gonzalez this week, California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman offered words of support for the women and apologized for the Texas lawyer’s behavior. I condemn the lawyer’s actions and I would be happy to talk with him about them, he wrote. The behavior is indefensible.
We are proud of our party’s diversity, so we are horrified by incidents like this in which a Latino woman was told that she must speak English at all times when visiting or living in America or suffer deportation,
or that Hispanic people should make less effort to assimilate themselves into American society, he said. The California Democratic Party abhors this rhetoric as much as it does Trump’s Wall.
The jerk lawyer’s general counsel criticized his actions
Attorney Aaron Bridges’s disrespectful and reprehensible actions were an embarrassment to the entire profession. His behavior was unprofessional, unjustified, and inexcusable, said Alexander Raspa, a spokesman for the office of disciplinary counsel. It is clear from video footage of the incident that Mr. Bidge’s conduct interfered substantially with Ms. Fuentes’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches.
After an investigation by the state bar association’s division of general counsel and disciplinary counsel, it was determined that
Mr. Bridges violated three provisions of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, including rules 1.04(a)(4), which prohibits Texas lawyers from engaging in dishonesty or deceitful acts; rule 1.05(b)(1), which prohibits lawyers from engaging in rude or insolent behavior; and rule 8.04(d), which prohibits any person from intentionally preventing another person from using their civil rights. As punishment, he will have his license suspended for six months as well as pay a $500 fine to the State Bar of Texas
The jerk lawyer was censured in Austin, where he practices law
The Austin Board of Disciplinary Appeals unanimously voted to reprimand Johnny Lee Jansen, who was found to have violated ethics rules when he threatened two women who were speaking Spanish inside a restaurant in San Antonio. This educational censure follows the advice of a state bar of ethics panel in 2018 that recommended that the Texas lawyer be disciplined for telling the woman, ‘My name is Johnny Lee and I’m an attorney. And you don’t speak English.’
The board’s decision notes that while it is not uncommon for defendants in criminal cases to lack knowledge of English and require a translator, Texas lawyers are generally expected to be able to speak English competently, except as required by law.
Other lawmakers want to remove the jerk lawyer from the office
Unfortunately, the jerk Texas lawyer is already in office. He was re-elected last year and will serve until 2020. What he did could be deemed as interfering with public servants and it may be grounds for prosecution by Texas state law, but there’s not much that can be done other than trying to remove him from office after the four years is up.
Other lawmakers have threatened to remove him but there doesn’t seem to be a real plan of action because of how far away his end date is. For now, all Texans can do is to make sure they vote him out of office when his term expires if they don’t want another jerk Texas lawyer like him around in the future.
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