The Houston Chronicle reports that Denise Pratt, a family District Court judge, has been accused of falsifying records and issuing illegally retroactive rulings.
Pratt, a Republican first elected in 2010, is currently running for re-election in 2014 to the bench of the 311st District Court. Anthony Magdaleno is currently running against her in the Republican primary. I am unaware of any Democratic candidates, though I must admit I have not been keeping up with these elections recently.
The alleged impropriety is a serious offense that, if confirmed, could lead to her removal form office. The Chronicle article notes two individuals with pending cases in her court, where the Judge would issue opinions in May, for example, with the decision timestamped as the previous January. As they note:
“Marcia Zimmerman, a 30-year veteran family lawyer based in Clear Lake, said she resorted to filing a motion after waiting for months on a ruling from Pratt. When the ruling finally came in, she was surprised to see the date listed was months before she had filed her motion.
‘I don’t think any of us believed the ruling was actually made before the petition for writ of mandamus because, why would she rule and not tell anybody?’ Zimmerman said, noting that Pratt also missed two scheduled hearings.
Family lawyer Robert Clark said he had a similar experience, arguing a case in January and then waiting five months for a ruling from Pratt that the official court record now says was issued on Jan. 30, the day before the two-day trial actually ended.”
This complaint was filed by local attorney Greg Enos, a Galveston-area lawyer and publisher of The Mongoose. Enos is most famous recently for launching the crusade against Christopher Dupuy, a Galveston County court judge who attracted no shortage of controversy. Dupuy was eventually forced to resign. Pratt, by comparison, is relatively tame. Enos is a high-profile Democrat, and has long held negative views towards Pratt. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Judge Pratt and her campaign, by the way, emphatically deny any wrongdoing, Additionally, they claim Enos has already “been forced to recant some of his claims.” Both the District Attorney and District Clerk’s office, meanwhile, have largely been silent on the topic of an ongoing investigation.
There’s an abridged Houston Chronicle article on this topic behind the asinine paywall as well.