FORT WORTH — A former Tarrant County magistrate’s license to practice law was suspended for nearly a week after he neglected to pay his bar dues.Cheyenne Minick, who was fired from his Tarrant County magistrate’s position earlier this month, said it was the first time in 16 years that he forgot to pay his bar dues. Minick’s license to practice law was inactive between Sept. 1 and 6, the week of the Labor Day holiday, and he was placed under an administrative suspension during that time, according to Lowell Brown, a spokesman for the State Bar of Texas.District Judge George Gallagher reviewed the cases Minick heard during his suspension. Gallagher said he chose to re-sentence seven people who pleaded guilty and were headed to state prison. After a closed door meeting on Sept. 17, Minick was placed on administrative leave with pay pursuant to an investigation. Minick was fired on Oct. 2. How much of a factor the suspension played in Minick’s termination is unknown. “I chose to re-sentence people sent to the state penitentiary to avoid any future questions as to the validity of the magistrate’s actions so those could be used for enhancement purposes in future cases,” Gallagher said. The re-sentencing was not necessary, Gallagher said. Even when a license to practice law is not in good standing, it is assumed that the work has been conducted in the usual manner unless there is evidence to the contrary, according to Gallagher.Prosecutors often inform a jury or a judge of an ex-convict’s past convictions in order to obtain harsher penalties for a convicted repeat offender. For example, a person with a previous felony conviction might receive a longer sentence following an assault conviction than he would if the previous conviction did not exist. Minick received his law degree from Texas Wesleyan University in 1997 and was assessed annual dues of $235. Members remitting dues after Aug. 31 of any fiscal year are suspended and must pay a 50 percent penalty, according to the State Bar of Texas.Minick, who plans to re-open his defense practice, said he will correct an oversight concerning his state bar profile page in the coming days and change his occupation from full-time judge to attorney.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3