Texas Attorney Represents Criminal Defendant Despite Being Found Mentally Incompetent

In 2011, Texas attorney Carolyn Barnes was found mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges that she fired a handgun at a census worker outside her home. As a result, she was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. Yet, despite being deemed mentally unfit to stand trial in her own right, she retains her license to practice law and even filed a brief three weeks ago on behalf of a client charged with misdemeanor theft. Last week, the judges hearing her client’s case raised questions about whether she could continue to practice law: “We question whether Barnes, having been found incompetent to stand trial in her own matter, may represent Gourley in this separate matter.”