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Attorneys standing up for what is right can make a true difference. In Galveston County, indicted Judge Dupuy has been suspended and temporarily removed and a wonderful replacement judge, Kerri Foley, appointed. This newsletter explains who Judge Foley is and how she came to be appointed.
In Harris County, Family District Judge Denise Pratt continues to boggle the collective legal conscience with her unreasonable rulings and total ignorance of the law. Judge Pratt is actually worse than Judge Dupuy in many ways. Judge Pratt is making unreasonable rulings contrary to the law several times a day and she is harming far more families and children than Dupuy ever did.
The encouraging news is that Harris County family law attorneys are actually willing to say when enough is enough. The vast majority of attorneys are refusing to contribute to Judge Pratt's campaign. For the first time since I started practicing family law, I am seeing lawyers actually willing to stick their necks out and speak out against an incumbent judge. I plan to post a "List of Shame" of the few attorneys who have contributed to Pratt's campaign and explore how well those attorneys do with appointments or juicy awards of fees in her court.
Two years ago, the GOP selected one Democratic judge who had tattoos and who had ruled the death penalty unconstitutional to be the judicial poster child for how bad it is when Democrats get elected judge. That TV ad campaign was very effective. Some are suggesting that Judge Pratt play the same role next year, except she would be used to smear all of the Republican judges, as if they all had terrible work habits and made crazy rulings in total ignorance of the law. That would not be fair to our really good family court judges who deserve to be reelected.
I apologize for the length of the article on Judge Pratt, but sadly it barely scratches the surface of the problems she is causing by not showing up to work, not ruling or (when she does rule) ignoring the law and common sense.
The Mongoose is watching!
Latest in Dupuy Saga
Numerous gag orders in former judge Dupuy's various cases have been issued. I am not a party or attorney in any of those cases, but I am an alleged victim in some of the criminal cases. Assuming arguendo that my First Amendment rights have been temporarily suspended by an order I was never served with, I have been forced to find other topics to share my opinions about. The following is public information that can be confirmed by a simple Google search or a search on the website of District Clerk or the Galveston Daily News on these cases involving Dupuy:
1. 9 criminal cases - Consolidated into 13CR1363. Set for trial on December 9. Hearing set for July 25 on Motion for Contempt filed by State against Dupuy and Dupuy's motions to dismiss 7 of the 9 charges.
2. Removal lawsuit - 13CD0701 - Set for trial in January 27, 2014, Mr. Dupuy's mandamus denied. Motion for contempt filed by AG against Dupuy set for July 30.
3. Judicial Conduct Commission vs. Dupuy - Dupuy's appeal of the order suspending him without pay denied.
4. Mr. Dupuy's child custody case - 09FD0420 - After days and days of explosive testimony, temporary orders switched custody to Dupuy's ex-wife and at least for now provide for no visitation by Dupuy with his kids. Dupuy's application for writ of mandamus was denied.
5. Uncle's lawsuit vs. Dupuy on note - 13CV0069 - Summary judgment granted for uncle with a judgment for $16,823 plus interest against Dupuy, who has said he will appeal.
6. Child custody cases of Dupuy's former/current fiances - There is on-going litigation pending and the number of children Dupuy cannot be around is growing.
7. Mr. Margarita legal malpractice suit vs. Dupuy - 09CV1183 - Trial set for November 15, 2013. Dupuy ordered to submit to a deposition.
8. Dupuy's lawsuit against the parenting coordinator appointed to help him and his ex-wife work together - Dupuy's lawsuit dismissed and the coordinator was awarded $8,491.07, including $5,550.00 in attorney fees against Dupuy.
9. Book and screenplay - Several lawyers and reporters rushing to get their stories in print first. Danny Devito is interested in playing Dupuy.
Devito smells Oscar all over this project!
Judge Kerri Foley
What if instead of uninformed voters blindly selecting judges based on straight party voting, judges were selected by informed officials based on actual qualifications, experience and judicial track records? The results might produce new judges like Kerri Foley, who has been appointed to be the temporary judge of County Court No. 3 as a result of Christopher Dupuy's removal.
Dupuy (who was elected thanks to straight ticket voting) was temporarily suspended by the Judicial Conduct Commission after he was indicted, but that only resulted in a need for visiting judges to handle the business of County Court No. 3. The removal lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General under Chapter 87 of the Local Government Code resulted in an order by assigned visiting Judge Robert Kern that Dupuy was temporarily removed and Kerri Foley appointed as his temporary replacement. As is usual in this sort of suit to remove a county official, the assigned judge hearing the case, Judge Kern, consulted with local officials including our County Judge, Mark Henry. Judge Henry had already discussed the best possible replacements with the other statutory county court judges and a majority of the county commissioners. No lawyers are really complaining about this selection other than those who are already running for this position and a few die-hard Democrats.
This appointment means that Foley will serve as long as the removal lawsuit is pending, which we now know will be at least through January 2014. If (or really when) the State wins the removal lawsuit and the office is declared vacant, then the County Commissioners will appoint a "permanent" replacement to serve until the votes in the November 2014 general election are canvassed. It is obvious that Foley would almost certainly win that appointment, so it is fair to assume we will be dealing with Judge Foley for the next year and a half. Judge Foley is going to seek re-election and her campaign treasurer is Amy Henry, the wife of County Judge Mark Henry. We may be getting to know Judge Foley for the next 20+ years.
Kerri Foley has practiced law in Galveston County for 18 years. Foley worked as a CPS caseworker while she went to law school at night. Foley worked as counsel for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, followed by six years as a criminal prosecutor in the Galveston County District Attorney's Office.
Foley has served as the Presiding Municipal Judge for League City for ten years and was selected to be the Associate Judge for juvenile cases last year. Foley handled primarily family law and criminal cases when she was in private practice. Judge Foley, unlike most of her competition in the GOP primary, has actually been an active Republican for a long time. Foley has served as officer in various Republican Women's groups and she does not have to explain a switch of party affiliation (like Ronald Reagan or Rick Perry or Lonnie Cox did).
Judge Foley has brought her staff from the juvenile court. The new Court Coordinator for County Court No. 3 is Melissa Williams and the Court Reporter is Kate Piper.
Judge Lisa Burkhalter, a former county court at law judge from Angelina County (Lufkin), is serving as interim juvenile master after Foley has to resign to take her new post. The permanent post as juvenile master has been posted by the county. Kathleen McCumber was appointed to replace Foley as the Municipal Judge of League City.
Galveston County Judicial Races
Here is latest summary of who is running for contested judicial races in Galveston County in the 2014 Republican primary:
County Court No. 3
306h Family District Court - Judge Jan Yarbrough is expected to retire but she is not officially confirmed she will not seek reelection. Candidates are:
212th District Court - Incumbent Judge Susan Criss has already said she will retire. If Judge Criss resigns in December to run for State Representative, then an appointment by the Governor to this bench could dramatically change this race. Announced candidates are:
- This race has been totally changed by the removal of Judge Dupuy and the appointment of Judge Kerri Foley, who will seek the GOP nomination. Foley has a long history of activism in the local Republican circles and she has a stellar track record as League City Municipal Judge and the Galveston County Juvenile Associate Judge. Foley was suggested by Republican elected officials and she will be able to run as the incumbent, meaning lawyers will be willing to donate to and support her campaign now (instead of waiting to see who wins before sticking their necks out as is usually the case). Candidates for this position are:
Judge Kerri Foley
G. Byron FulkPhillip MorrisDonnie Quintanilla
Judge Pratt Must Go!
I am writing out of respect for our system of justice and out of concern for the parents and families of Harris County. The only two contested trials I ever presented to Judge Denise Pratt were won by my clients, so I am not a sore loser. I am a board certified family law attorney with 27 years experience who cares deeply that courts reach the right decisions and follow proper procedures. Like most folks, I believe family court judges must protect children, follow the law, apply common sense and treat everyone fairly. I know full well the powers the family court judges wield and I know that this article will anger Judge Pratt and some rich, powerful attorneys who seem to do so well in her court. I am not running for political office and I have no personal gain at stake other than the satisfaction of seeing mothers and fathers and children treated fairly. In fact, my law firm loses money because I am turning down cases that are pending before certain judges.
However, the truth is the truth and this article is based on 100% provable facts. I will print verbatim in my newsletter any rebuttal from Judge Pratt or the attorneys involved in these cases if they have facts to submit which contradict what I write here. I am not repeating rumors swirling around the courthouse about Judge Pratt's personal life because I simply do not believe them until I see proof. Judge Pratt is still a judge and her office deserves our respect and she deserves to be treated fairly by her legal colleagues. Just as I expect Judge Pratt to rule in her court on the basis of evidence, I am content to prove Judge Pratt's incompetence with facts and not gossip.
Judge Pratt has six basic problems as a judge:
1. Judge Pratt's work ethic is terrible. She often does not come to work or leaves early or refuses to hear cases or reschedules hearings for months or years in the future. She has been known to start a hearing, then take a break, and then just leave the courthouse forcing her staff to tell the bewildered attorneys that the hearing will have to resume at a later date. It can take months to get a ruling from Judge Pratt. Lately, Judge Pratt has "backdated" some of her rulings to make it appear that she ruled months or weeks earlier than the date the rendition or order was actually signed.
2. Judge Pratt routinely refuses to accept agreements between parents who know and love their children. Pratt makes her own handwritten changes to orders that the parties have not agreed to and for which there has been no hearing or evidence and then she signs the orders!
3. Judge Pratt appoints amicus attorneys when no other judge on the planet would consider an expensive third attorney necessary. Communications between Judge Pratt and some of the amicus attorneys she appoints is a whole other, even more ominous, issue, and that will be addressed in a later newsletter.
4. Judge Pratt follows bizarre policies that clearly are not based in reality. For example, she refuses to approve for any child, even a 17 year old, to fly on an airline unaccompanied for visitations out of fear of "human trafficking." She will not let fathers have overnight possession of very young children even when the parents agree and they have been doing it for months!
5. It is widely believed that a small group of attorneys can get almost anything they ask for from Judge Pratt.
6. Most importantly, Judge Pratt clearly does not know the law, she does not follow the law and she does not make common sense decisions regarding children.
Here are but three examples, of so many I could provide, which should be enough to blow the mind of any lawyer or judge or caring parent. Click on this link to download my full article on Judge Pratt which provides details about these amazing cases.
2002-59200. Mother with primary custody of an 11 year old boy hit with TRO that eliminates her possession just because she did not take the boy to baseball practices and might not take him to a state tournament.
2012-35606. NFL star gets raped in paternity case and ordered to pay $500,000 in interim attorney's fees even though his lawyers were not at the hearing and the mother's attorneys at best only "prove up" $362,000 in fees.
2011-07230. Pratt "sua sponte" without evidence temporary gave custody of a 3 year old to a non-party step-grandmother and then left the child with the step-grandmother for another four months after the step-grandmother tested positive for marijuana and cocaine.
Judge Pratt needs to resign or be defeated in either the Republican primary or the November 2014 general election.
Over Guideline Child Support
I have put together a packet regarding "over guideline child support" that includes summaries of all recent appellate cases on the subject, the law and a handy chart.
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Robert Kennedy, June 6, 1966
Cape Town, South Africa
(click on the story link)
Judge Pratt Faces
A New Challenger
Attorney Anthony Magdaleno, a rising star in the Harris County GOP, announced today that he is running against Judge Denise Pratt for the Republican nomination for the 311th Family District Court.
Magdaleno joins Phil Placzek in challenging Judge Pratt in the March 2014 GOP primary.
Family Law Appellate Decisions for May 2013
I am running a little behind in my monthly summary of new appellate cases involving family law. Click here for the complete summary
or review the individual cases below and click the headline to go to a summary of just that case.
2013 Harris County Family Law Directory
The newest edition of the Harris County Family Law Directory is now available for free download at www.divorcereality.com.
You can order a bound, color version of the directory for $25 per directory by mailing a check payable to "The Enos Law Firm" to 17207 Feather Craft Lane, Webster, TX 77598. The directory has listings of attorneys, family courts, AG offices, custody evaluators, real estate appraisers, court reporters and much more. This year I included practical and useful legal articles from the 2012 "Ultimate Property Division Seminar" I organized with the judges in Galveston County.
The Harris County Family Law Directory is also searchable on-line at www.divorcereality.com
and you can use our Internet forms to send us corrections or updates to your listing. Click here
to go directly to my legal directories page.
Why isn't Subpoenae the Plural of Subpoena?
Subpoena is a singular English noun -- it was never a Latin noun. Rather, the English word subpoena derived from the Latin phrase sub peona, meaning "under penalty" or "under pain." The Oxford English Dictionary dates subpoena from the late 15th century. And the plural subpoenas appears in English law as early as 1509 in the title of a statute "for Subpoenas and Privy Seals."
Jesus and Divorce
For those divorce attorneys with a theological interest, I came across a very interesting sermon by a biblical scholar and pastor on "Jesus and Divorce." Apparently, it helps to interpret the Bible if you understand the culture and laws that existed at the time Jesus began his religious revolution. Click here to read a thought provoking sermon by Dr David Instone-Brewer.
Upcoming Campaign Events
I am going to try to post notices for upcoming campaign functions for all races in Galveston County and family court races in Harris County. Candidates: please send me your notices and I will help get the word out and please stop holding secret exclusive events for just a few big fat cats that us little people are not invited to!
Patricia Grady Campaign Kickoff
Thursday, July 25, 4 - 7 p.m.
Esteban's Fiesta Shack, League City
Judy Warne Re-election Kickoff
Tuesday, August 13 from 5:30 - 8 p.m.
La Griglia, 2002 West Gray
Goodbye Otto Dogs (more than most other pets and humans I know) provide unquestioned love, loyalty and fun. Dogs enrich our lives but it sure hurts when you lose one. Since this is my newsletter and I get to write about whatever I want, I am taking a moment to say good bye to Otto the Doberman. In fact, I would do well to be like Otto and go out the way he did (except I want a Viking funeral with a burning longship pushed off into a fjord).
Otto always did his job. His booming bark greeted anyone who entered the house and, if it was a stranger, Otto knew how to intimidate until it was clear the newcomer was okay. Otto once attacked a larger Rottweiler who was getting too aggressive with Otto's owner, Toni, and the bigger dog was killed. Yet, Otto was great with kids and he let Toni's little boys climb all over him. Otto was big and scary but he just wanted love and to be petted. Visitors to our house found his head in their laps and they would pet him for hours, somewhat afraid to stop.
Otto loved his Toni (as much as I do) and he missed her like crazy when she was away. He would go to her closet and gently take one of her leather shoes to his bed without leaving a tooth mark so he could lay next to something that smelled like Toni until she returned. Otto survived back surgery and the indignity of eventually not being able to get up on the human bed to sleep. As always, Otto was well behaved, even on his last visit to the vet, where he fell asleep forever looking at his grieving mom with those sweet, black trusting eyes. Good bye my buddy. Your Toni and your human and dog family really miss you.
Attorney Greg Enos has been through his own divorce and child custody battle (he won) and understands what his clients are going through. Enos graduated from the University of Texas Law School and was a very successful personal injury attorney in Texas City before he decided his true calling was to help families in divorce and child custody cases. Greg Enos is active in politics and in Clear Lake area charities. He has served as President of the Bay Area Bar Association and President of the Board of Interfaith Caring Ministries.
Attorney Greg Enos