Law Review

A conversation with CLEAT General Counsel Mike Rickman

Long before Mick Rickman became the top lawyer for CLEAT, he was a member of CLEAT for seven years as a police officer in Mesquite.

“It was a important for me then, it’s important for officers now, and it will be important for officers in the future,” Rickman says.

Rickman, who used his law enforcement experience as a springboard to a legal career, says that every police officer stands in the path of a legal complaint every day on the job. And when someone files a complaint, no matter how trivial it might seem, the officer better have immediate access to top-flight legal representation.

And that’s exactly what every CLEAT member has.

“The bottom line is, the difference between an outside attorney and a CLEAT attorney is that the CLEAT attorney deals with (law enforcement issues) 24/7,” Rickman says.

Click on the video below to hear Mike explain the mission of CLEAT Legal Services in detail. This is one in an occasional series of conversations with the some of the people who make the CLEAT the largest and best labor law enforcement organization in Texas.

Posted by September 22, 2014

Bob Leonard promoted to Assistant General Counsel

Bob Leonard and Charley Wikison

Bob Leonard and Charley Wilkison

Staff Attorney Bob Leonard, who has been with CLEAT for nine years,  has been promoted to Assistant General Counsel by Executive Director Charley Wilkison.

Leonard, a New York native, joined CLEAT in 2005 and works in the San Antonio office. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History at the University of New York, Stony Brook, and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School.

In 1983, Robert joined the U.S. Army and was a military police officer. In 1985, he joined the Army National Guard and served for 15 years.

CLEAT General Counsel Michael Rickman, who has been working from the San Antonio, is now setting up shop in the State Headquarters in Austin. He will be able to travel more in the field but will continue with a presence in San Antonio when needed, Wilkison said.

Posted by September 17, 2014

CLEAT helps clear Austin officers who used deadly force on armed suspect

Nadia Stewart

Nadia Stewart

Austin police officers who were forced to open fire on a man who leveled a shotgun at them in April 2013 were cleared this week by a grand jury.

CLEAT Staff Attorney Nadia Stewart represented Officers Matthew Henion, Nicholas Moore and Donovan Hunter in the incident that was described by APD Chief Art Acevedo as “suicide by cop.” A fourth officer in the incident had separate representation.

Stewart said the evidence was overwhelming that the man, who later was found to have quit taking medications to treat a mental disorder, represented a grave threat to the officers and anyone else in the area on the night of the shooting. He had barricaded himself in shed behind his home and was armed with the shotgun and a handgun. Read More »

Posted by September 17, 2014

CLEAT wins reversal of El Paso deputy’s suspension

Deputy Luis Silva and CLEAT Attorney Alyssa Perez

Deputy Luis Silva and CLEAT Attorney Alyssa Perez

Deputy Luis Silva, a 17-year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, had his three-day suspension overturned thanks to CLEAT Attorney Alyssa Perez.

The case arose out of Deputy Silva’ s involvement as an assisting unit to a controlled narcotics delivery operation. The operation turned into a pursuit of the target vehicle which was carrying over 400 pounds of marijuana.

Deputy Silva was the passenger in the primary unit.  Although all the deputies involved were investigated by internal affairs for violations of the pursuit policy, their cases were not sustained by the Sheriff. Read More »

Posted by September 9, 2014

CLEAT helps wrongly fired deputy constable win reinstatement

Celeste Robertson and Richard Morrisey

Nueces County Deputy Constable Richard Morrisey has his job back, thanks to CLEAT Staff Attorney Celeste Robertson.

Despite the fact that Deputy Morrisey suffers from a serious medical condition, he was fired because the constable said he failed to call in sick an hour before his shift.

This so-called policy was issued by the constable even though it is  in direct conflict with the Nueces County Civil Service Rules.

Therefore, Deputy Morrisey was reinstated and is thankful he had CLEAT behind him.

Posted by August 12, 2014

Officer cleared in deadly shooting at Midland restaurant

From KMID News

An off-duty detective who shot and killed an armed man inside a Midland restaurant last month has been cleared of any wrongdoing, according to police.

A Midland county grand jury issued a “no bill” ruling following an investigation. Back on June 27, police say Nyocomus Garnett, 35, entered through the back of La Bodega restaurant around 9:30 p.m. and went into the kitchen with a gun, trying to rob the business. Garnett then began firing the gun in the kitchen, police say.

Off-duty detective James Cox was eating at the restaurant and confronted Garnett as Garnett left the kitchen. Police say Garnett refused to comply with Cox’s demands and pointed the gun toward Cox. Cox then shot Garnett who was later pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured.

For the full report, click here.

Posted by August 4, 2014

Officer’s unfair F-5 report upgraded to ‘Honorable Discharge’ thanks to CLEAT

Officer Patrick Zee and CLEAT Staff Attorney Bob Thomas.

Officer Patrick Zee and CLEAT Staff Attorney Bob Thomas.

A Texas Administrative Law Judge recently reversed an unfavorable F-5 report for Officer Patrick Zee from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe Police Department  in Livingston.

As a result of the judge’s decision, the report was upgraded to an Honorable Discharge.  The action came after a one-day contested evidentiary hearing in Houston.

Zee was represented by CLEAT Staff Attorney Bob Thomas.

Posted by June 30, 2014

Legal Victory in El Paso


From Zero to Hero

Alfredo Nava was not the first Deputy in El Paso to get railroaded by his boss.  Fabricated evidence, trumped-up charges, perjury and witness intimidation seem to be perfectly acceptable methods for elected Constables to deploy when firing their deputies.  That’s because each termination must survive the Civil Service Commission’s scrutiny.

But this Constable’s case could not survive real scrutiny. Read More »

Posted by June 18, 2014

CLEAT helps Vidor officer clear her name, win back pay

Bob Thomas and Office Cathy Braneff

Bob Thomas and Office Cathy Braneff

CLEAT staff attorney Bob Thomas helped Vidor Officer Cathy Braneff win 19 months of back pay and benefits and the ability to gain an honorable discharged after officials sought to wrongly terminate her employment.

The matter was resolved after the Vidor City Council approved a negotiated settlement with Officer Braneff. Once the settlement was reached, Officer Braneff withdrew her appeal and submitted a letter of resignation.

Posted by June 2, 2014

HCC officer thankful for legal help from Bob Thomas

Bob Thomas and Felicia D. Rucker-Carter

Bob Thomas and Felicia D. Rucker-Carter

Dear Charley Wilkison,

I’m writing you this letter to advise you of the outstanding job that was done by one of your attorneys. The attorney I’m talking about is Bob Thomas.

I will start off by saying that a car hit me on March 30, 2013, while I was working an extra job directing traffic. I was hurt pretty badly. I called  Houston Community College police department eight hours after leaving the hospital. Read More »

Posted by February 19, 2014