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Criminal Justice

Harassment case against prominent San Antonio attorney dropped

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Joey Palacios
/
Texas Public Radio
The Class B misdemeanor charges against Martin Phipps, second from the right, were dropped Friday

The criminal case against prominent defense attorney Martin Phipps has been dismissed. Phipps — who represented Bexar County in its opioid litigation — was arrested for telephone harassment last year.

After more than 13 months, a special prosecutor dropped the case against Phipps for lack of evidence.

Phipps, then 51, was accused of harassing his then-wife Brenda Vega, 24 — a former employee who he was married to for about a week when the alleged incident occurred.

According to the arrest affidavit, Phipps confronted Vega in an agitated state while on drugs on Christmas 2020. Vega fled the house in the middle of the night and traveled to Mexico to be with family.

Phipps was arrested for dozens of texts he sent to her in the short period after she left. A detective said they were sent to "likely to demean, harass, alarm and torment." He was never charged.

The two later had the marriage annulled.

“The allegation of telephone harassment was based on text messages sent by a husband to his wife on two occasions. No threats were made. No stalking. Nothing else. Just texts on two dates while they were married,” said Michael McCrum, Phipps' attorney.

McCrum said the arrest should have never happened, that it was “engineered” by one of Phipps’ former colleagues and that Phipps was innocent.

Vega declined comment for this story.

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales recused his office from the prosecution last June. Phipps attorneys said it was a conflict since there was significant disagreement over how Phipps was pursuing the county’s opioid litigation. They implied in a court filing a conspiracy that linked back to his former colleague T.J. Mayes.

Mayes declined comment for this story.

Mayes left the firm in January of 2021 making accusations about Phipps treatment of women and his business ethics. He then worked briefly with Vega and another former Phipps employee before giving up his law license temporarily last year.

Phipps filed a protective order against Mayes last year.

After months of searching for a replacement attorney to prosecute the case, County Court at Law 14 Judge Carlo Key assigned Cyrus Scott Hessami Morgan on Feb. 7. The special prosecutor works for Hays County district attorney’s office — a county that Phipps also represented in its opioid litigation.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story said that T.J. Mayes had given up his law license. This story was updated to reflect he has reclaimed his law license and is in good standing with the Texas Bar.